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i ... metus ille .... Acheruntis. . . . 
Funditus humanam qui vitam turbat ab imo 




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E. DE V. 




BOOK II 133 

BOOK in 201 

BOOK IV 269 

BOOK V. , , 863 




*I MUST be turning back. A dreary day for anyone 
coming fresh to these parts ! ' 

So saying, Mr. Helbeck stood still both hands 
resting on his thick stick while his gaze slowly swept 
the straight white road in front of him and the landscape 
to either side. 

Before him stretched the marshlands of the Flent 
valley, a broad alluvial plain brought down by the rivers 
Flent and Greet on their way to the estuary and the 
sea. From the slight rising ground on which he stood, 
he could see the great peat mosses about the river-mouths, 
marked here and there by lines of weather-beaten trees, 
or by more solid dots of black which the eye of the 
inhabitant knew to be peat stacks. Beyond the mosses 
were level lines of greyish white, where the looping 
rivers passed into the sea lines more luminous than 
the sky at this particular moment of a damp March 
afternoon, because of some otherwise invisible radiance, 
which, miles away, seemed to be shining upon the water, 
slipping down to it from behind a curtain of rainy 

Nearer by, on either side of the high road which cut 



the valley from east to west, were black and melancholy 
fields, half reclaimed from the peat moss, fields where the 
water stood in the furrows, or a plough, driven deep and 
left, showed the nature of the heavy water-logged earth, 
and the farmer's despair of dealing with it, till the drying 
winds should come. Some of it, however, had long 
before been reclaimed for pasture, so that strips of 
sodden green broke up, here and there, the long stretches 
of purple black. In the great dykes or drains to which 
the pastures were due, the water, swollen with recent 
rain, could be seen hurrying to join the rivers and the 
sea. The clouds overhead hurried like the dykes and the 
streams. A perpetual procession from the north-west 
swept inland from the sea, pouring from the dark dis- 
tance of the upper valley, and blotting out the mountains 
that stood around its head. 

A desolate scene, on this wild March day ; yet full of 
a sort of beauty, even so far as the mosslands were con- 
cerned. And as Alan Helbeck's glance travelled along 
the ridge to his right, he saw it gradually rising from the 
marsh in slopes, and scars, and wooded fells, a medley of 
lovely lines, of pastures and copses, of villages clinging 
to the hills, each with its church tower and its white 
spreading farms a land of homely charm and comfort, 
gently bounding the marsh below it, and cut off by the 
seething clouds in the north-west from the mountains 
towards which it climbed. And as he turned homewards 
with the moss country behind him, the hills rose and fell 
about him in soft undulation more and more rich in 
wood, while beside him roared the tumbling Greet, with 
its flood-voice a voice more dear and familiar to Alan 
Helbeck perhaps, at this moment of his life, than the 
voice of any human being. 

He walked fast with his shoulders thrown back, a 
remarkably tall man, with a dark head and short grizzled 


beard. He held himself very erect, as a soldier holds 
himself ; but he had never been a soldier. 

Once in his rapid course, he paused to look at his 
watch, then hurried on, thinking. 

' She stipulates that she is never to be expected to 
come to prayers,' he repeated to himself, half smiling. 
' I suppose she thinks of herself as representing her 
father in a nest of Papists. Evidently Augustina has 
no chance with her she has been accustomed to reign ! 
Well, we shall let her " gang her gait." ' 

His mouth, which was full and strongly closed, took 
a slight expression of contempt. As he turned over a 
bridge, and then into his own gate on the further side, he 
passed an old labourer who was scraping the mud from 
the road. 

'Have you seen any carriage go by just lately, 
Eeuben ? ' 

' Noa ' said the man. ' Theer's been none this last 
hour an more nobbut carts, an t' "Whinthrupp bus.' 

Helbeck's pace slackened. He had been very solitary 
all day, and even the company of the old road-sweeper 
was welcome.' 

' If we don't get some drying days soon, it'll be bad 
for all of us, won't it, Reuben ? ' 

' Aye, it's a bit clashy,' said the man, with stolidity, 
stopping to spit into his hands a moment, before resuming 
his work. 

The mildness of the adjective brought another half- 
smile to Helbeck's dark face. A stranger watching it 
might have wondered, indeed, whether it could smile 
with any fulness or spontaneity. 

' But you don't see any good in grumbling is that it ? ' 

' Noa we'se not git ony profit that gate, I reckon,' 
said the old man, laying his ecraper to the mud once 



'Well, good-night to you. I'm expecting my sister 
to-night, you know, my sister Mrs. Fountain, and her 

'Eh?' said Eeuben slowly. 'Then yo'll be hevin 
cumpany, fer shure. Good-neet to ye, Misther Hel- 

But there was no great cordiality in his tone, and he 
touched his cap carelessly, without any sort of unction. 
The man's manner expressed familiarity of long habit, 
but little else. 

Helbeck turned into his own park. The road that led 
up to the house, wound alongside the river, whereof the 
banks had suddenly risen into a craggy wildness. All 
recollection of the marshland was left behind. The 
ground mounted on either side of the stream towards fell- 
tops, of which the distant lines could be seen dimly here 
and there behind the crowding trees ; while, at some turns 
of the road, where the course of the Greet made a passage 
for the eye, one might look far away to the same mingled 
blackness of cloud and scar that stood round the head of 
the estuary. Clearly the mountains were not far off; 
and this was a border country between their ramparts 
and the sea. 

The light of the March evening was dying, dying in a 
stormy greyness that promised more rain for the morrow. 
Yet the air was soft, and the spring made itself felt. In 
some sheltered places by the water, one might already 
see a shimmer of buds ; and in the grass of the wild 
untended park, daffodils were springing. Helbeck was 
conscious of it all ; his eye and ear were on the watch for 
the signs of growth, and for the birds that haunted the 
river, the dipper on the stone, the grey wagtail slipping 
to its new nest in the bank, the golden-crested wren, or 
dark-backed creeper moving among the thorns. He 
loved such things ; though with a silent and jealous love 


that seemed to imply some resentment towards other 
things and forces in his life. 

As he walked, the manner of the old peasant rankled 
a little in his memory. For it implied, if not disrespect, 
at least a complete absence of all that the French call 
' consideration.' 

' It's strange how much more alone I've felt in this 
place of late than I used to feel ' was Helbeck's reflection 
upon it, at last. ' I reckon it since I sold the Leasowes 
land. Or is it perhaps ' 

He fell into a reverie marked by a frowning expression, 
and a harsh drawing down of the mouth. But gradually 
as he swung along, muttered words began to escape him, 
and his hand went to a book that he carried in his pocket. 
' dust, learn of Me to obey I Learn of Me, earth and 
clay, to humble thyself, and to cast thyself under the feet 
of all men for the love of Me.' As he murmured the 
words, which soon became inaudible, his aspect cleared, 
his eyes raised themselves again to the landscape, and 
became once more conscious of its growth and life. 

' Presently he reached a gate across the road, where a 
big sheepdog sprang out upon him, leaping and barking 
joyously. Beyond the gates rose a low pile of buildings, 
standing round three sides of a yard. They had once 
been the stables of the Hall. Now they were put to farm 
uses, and through the door of what had formerly been a 
coachhouse with a coat of arms worked in white pebbles 
on its floor, a woman could be seen milking. Helbeck 
looked in upon her. 

' No carriage gone by yet, Mrs. Tyson ? ' 

1 Noa, sir,' said the woman. ' But I'll mebbe prop t' 
gate open, for it's aboot time.' And she put down her 

1 Don't move ! ' said Helbeck hastily. ' I'll do it 


The woman, as she milked, watched him propping the 
ruinous gate with a stone ; her expression all the time 
friendly and attentive. His own people, women especially, 
somehow always gave him this attention. 

Helbeck hurried forward over a road, once stately, 
and now badly worn and ill-mended. The trees, mostly 
oaks of long growth, which had accompanied him since 
the entrance of the park, thickened to a close wood around 
till of a sudden he emerged from them, and there, across 
a wide space, rose a grey gabled house, sharp against a 
hillside, with a rainy evening light full upon it. ] 

It was an old and weather-beaten house, of a singular 
character and dignity; yet not large. It was built of 
grey stone, covered with a rough-cast, so tempered by 
age to the colour and surface of the stone, that the many 
patches where it had dropped away produced hardly any 
disfiguring effect. The rugged ' pele ' tower, origin and 
source of all the rest, was now grouped with the gables 
and projections, the broad casemented windows, and deep 
doorways of a Tudor manor-house. But the whole 
structure seemed still to lean upon and draw towards the 
tower; and it was the tower which gave accent to a 
general expression of austerity, depending perhaps on the 
plain simplicity of all the approaches and immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the house. For in front of it were neither 
flowers nor shrubs only wide stretches of plain turf and 
gravel ; while behind it, beyond some thin intervening 
trees, rose a grey limestone fell, into which the house 
seemed to withdraw itself, as into the rock, ' whence it 
was hewn.' 

There were some lights in the old windows, and the 
heavy outer door was open. Helbeck mounted the steps 
and stood, watch in hand, at the top of them, looking down 
the avenue he had just walked through. And very soon, 
in spite of the roar of the river, his ear distinguished the 


wheels he was listening for. While they approached, he 
could not keep himself still, but moved restlessly about 
the little stone platform. He had been solitary for many 
years, and had loved his solitude. 

' They're just coomin', sir,' said the voice of his old 
housekeeper, as she threw open an inner door behind 
him, letting a glow of fire and candles stream out into 
the twilight. Helbeck meanwhile caught sight for an 
instant of a girl's pale face at the window of the approach- 
ing carriage a face thrust forward eagerly, to gaze at 
the pele tower. 

The horses stopped, and out sprang the girl. 

' Wait a moment let me help you, Augustina. How 
do you do, Mr. Helbeck ? Don't touch my dog, please 
she doesn't like men. Fricka, be quiet ! ' 

For the little black spitz she held in a chain had 
begun to growl and bark furiously at the first sight of 
Helbeck, to the evident anger of the old housekeeper, 
who looked at the dog sourly as she went forward to take 
some bags and rugs from her master. Helbeck, mean- 
while, and the young girl helped another lady to alight. 
She came out slowly with the precautions of an invalid, 
and Helbeck gave her his arm. 

At the top of the steps she turned and looked round 

' Oh, Alan ! ' she said, ' it is so long ' 

Her lips trembled, and her head shook oddly. She 
was a short woman, with a thin plaintive face and a 
nervous jerk of the head, always very marked at a moment 
of agitation. As he noticed it, Helbeck felt times long 
past rush back upon him. He laid his hand over hers, 
and tried to say something ; but his shyness oppressed 
him. When he had led her into the broad hall, with its 
firelight and stuccoed roof, she said, turning round with 
the same bewildered air 


You saw Laura ? You have never seen her before ! ' 
' Oh yes ; we shook hands, Augustina,' said a young 
voice. 'Will Mr. Helbeck please help me with these 
things ? ' 

She was laden with shawls and packages, and 
Helbeck hastily went to her aid. In the emotion of 
bringing his sister back into the old house, which she 
had left fifteen years before, when he himself was a 
lad of two-and-twenty, he had forgotten her step- 

But Miss Fountain did not intend to be forgotten. 
She made him relieve her of all burdens, and then argue 
an overcharge with the flyman. And at last, when all 
the luggage was in and the fly was driving off, she 
mounted the steps deliberately, looking about her all 
the time, but principally at the house. The eyes of the 
housekeeper, who with Mr. Helbeck was standing in the 
entrance awaiting her, surveyed both dog and mistress 
with equal disapproval. 

But the dusk was fast passing into darkness, and it 
was not till the girl came into the brightness of the hall, 
where her stepmother was already sitting tired and 
drooping on a settle near the great wood fire, that Helbeck 
saw her plainly. 

She was very small and slight, and her hair made a 
spot of pale gold against the oak panelling of the walls. 
Helbeck noticed the slenderness of her arms, and the 
prettiness of her little white neck, then the freedom of 
her quick gesture as she went up to the elder lady 
and with a certain peremptoriness began to loosen her 

'Augustina ought to go to bed directly,' she said 
looking at Helbeck. 'The journey tired her dread' 

' Mrs. Fountain's room is quite ready,' said the house- 


keeper, holding herself stiffly behind her master. She 
was a woman of middle age, with a pinkish face, framed 
between two tiers of short grey curls. 

Laura's eye ran over her. 

' You don't like our coming ! ' she said to herself. 
Then to Helbeck 

' May I take her up at once ? I will unpack, and put 
her comfortable. Then she ought to have some food. 
She has had nothing to-day, but some tea at Lancaster.' 

Mrs. Fountain looked up at the girl with feeble ac- 
quiescence, as though depending on her entirely. Helbeck 
glanced from his pale sister to the housekeeper in some 

1 What will you have ? ' he said nervously to' Miss 
Fountain. ' Dinner, I think, was to be at a quarter to 

' That was the time I was ordered, sir,' said Mrs. 

' Can't it be earlier ? ' asked the girl impetuously. 

Mrs. Denton did not reply, but her shoulders grew 
visibly rigid. 

' Do what you can for us, Denton,' said her master 
hastily, and she went away. Helbeck bent kindly over 
his sister. 

' You know what a small establishment we have, 
Augustina. Mrs. Denton, a rough girl, and a boy that's 
all. I do trust they will be able to make you comfort- 

' Oh, let me come down, when I have unpacked, and 
help cook,' said Miss Fountain brightly. ' I can do any- 
thing of that sort.' 

Helbeck smiled for the first time. ' I am afraid Mrs. 
Denton wouldn't take it kindly. She rules us all in this 
old place.' 

' I dare say,' said the girl quietly. ' It's fish, of course ? ' 


she added, looking down at her stepmother, and speaking 
in a meditative voice. 

'It's a Friday's dinner,' said Helbeck, flushing 
suddenly, and looking at his sister, 'except for Miss 
Fountain. I supposed ' 

Mrs. Fountain rose in some agitation and threw him 
a piteous look. 

' Of course you did, Alan of course you did. But 
the doctor at Folkestone he was a Catholic I took 
such care about that ! told me I mustn't fast. And 
Laura is always worrying me. But indeed I didn't want 
to be dispensed ! not yet ! ' 

Laura said nothing ; nor did Helbeck. There was a 
certain embarrassment in the looks of both, as though 
there was more in Mrs. Fountain's words than appeared. 
Then the girl, holding herself erect and rather defiant, 
drew her stepmother's arm in hers, and turned to 

' Will you please show us the way up ? ' 

Helbeck took a small hand-lamp and led the way, 
bidding the newcomers beware of the slipperiness of the 
old polished boards. Mrs. Fountain walked with caution, 
clinging to her stepdaughter. At the foot of the staircase 
she stopped, and looked upward. 

' Alan, I don't see much change ! ' 

He turned back, the light shining on his fine harsh 
face and grizzled hair. 

' Don't you ? But it is greatly changed, Augustina. 
We have shut up half of it.' 

Mrs. Fountain sighed deeply and moved on. Laura, 
as she mounted the stairs, looked back at the old hall, 
its ceiling of creamy stucco, its panelled walls, and below, 
the great bare floor of shining oak with hardly any furniture 
upon it a strip of old carpet, a heavy oak table, and a 
few battered chairs at long intervals against the panelling. 


But the big fire of logs piled upon the hearth filled it all 
with cheerful light, and under her indifferent manner, the 
girl's sense secretly thrilled with pleasure. She had heard 
much of ' poor Alan's ' poverty. Poverty ! As far as his 
house was concerned at any rate, it seemed to her of a 
very tolerable sort. 

In a few minutes Helbeck came downstairs again, 
and stood absently before the fire on the hearth. 
After a while, he sat down beside it in his accustomed 
chair a carved chair of black Westmoreland oak and 
began to read from the book which he had been carrying 
in his pocket out of doors. He read with his head bent 
closely over the pages, because of short sight ; and, as a 
rule, reading absorbed him so completely that he was 
conscious of nothing external while it lasted. To-night, 
however, he several times looked up to listen to the 
sounds overhead, unwonted sounds in this house, over 
which, as it often seemed to him, a quiet of cen- 
turies had settled down, like a fine dust or deposit, 
muffling all its steps and voices. But there was nothing 
muffled in the voice overhead which he caught every 
now and then, through an open door, escaping, eager and 
alive, into the silence ; or in the occasional sharp bark of 
the dog. 

' Horrid little wretch ! ' thought Helbeck. ' Denton 
will loathe it. Augustina should really have warned me. 
What shall we do if she and Denton don't get on ? It 
will never answer if she tries meddling in the kitchen 
I must tell her.' 

Presently, however, his inner anxieties grew upon 
him so much that his book fell on his knee, and he lost 
himself in a multitude of small scruples and torments, 
such as beset all persons who live alone. Were all his 
days now to be made difficult, because he had followed his 


conscience, and asked his widowed sister to come and 
live with him ? 

' Augustina and I could have done well enough. But 
this girl well, we must put up with it we must, Bruno ! ' 

He laid his hand as he spoke on the neck of a 
collie that had just lounged into the hall, and come to lay 
its nose upon his master's knee. Suddenly a bark from 
overhead made the dog start back and prick its ears. 

'Come here, Bruno be quiet. You're to treat 
that little brute with, proper contempt do you hear? 
Listen to all that scuffling and talking upstairs that's 
the new young woman getting her way with old Denton. 
Well, it won't do Denton any harm. We're put upon 
sometimes, too, aren't we ? ' 

And he caressed the dog, his haughty face alive with 
something half bitter, half humorous. 

At that moment the old clock in the hall struck a 
quarter past seven. Helbeck sprang up. 

'Am I to dress?' he said to himself in some 

He considered for a moment or two, looking at his 
shabby serge suit, then sat down again resolutely. 

' No ! She'll have to live our life. Besides, I don't 
know what Denton would think.' 

And he lay back in his chair, recalling with some 
amusement the criticisms of his housekeeper upon a 
young Catholic friend of his who rare event had spent 
a fishing week with him in the autumn, and had startled 
the old house and its inmates with his frequent changes 
of raiment. 'It's yan set o' cloas for breakfast, an 
anudther for fishin, an anudther for ridin, an yan for 
when he cooms in, an a fine suit for dinner and anudther 
for smoakin A should think he mut be oftener naked 
nor donned ! ' Denton had said in her grim Westmoreland, 
and Helbeck had often chuckled over the remark. 


An honr later, half an hour after the usual time, 
Helbeck, all the traces of his muddy walk removed, and 
garbed with scrupulous neatness in the old black coat 
and black tie he always wore of an evening, was sitting 
opposite to Miss Fountain at supper. 

' You got everything you wanted for Augustina, I 
hope ? ' he said to her shyly as they sat down. He had 
awaited her in the dining-room itself, so as to avoid the 
awkwardness of taking her in. It was some years since 
a woman had stayed under his roof, or since he had been 
a guest in the same house with women. 

' Oh yes ! ' said Miss Fountain. But she threw a sly 
swift glance towards Mrs. Den ton who was just coming 
into the room with some coffee ; then compressed her lips 
and studied her plate. Helbeck detected the glance, and 
saw too that Mrs. Denton's pink face was flushed, and her 
manner discomposed. 

1 The coffee's noa good,' she said abruptly, as she put 
it down ; ' I couldn't keep to 't.' 

' No, I'm afraid we disturbed Mrs. Denton dreadfully,' 
said Miss Fountain, shrugging her shoulders. ' We got 
her to bring up all sorts of things for Augustina. She 
was dreadfully tired I thought she would faint. The 
doctor scolded me before we left, about letting her go 
without food. Shall I give you some fish, Mr. Helbeck ? ' 

For, to her astonishment, the fish even a very small 
portion was placed before herself, side by side with a 
few fragments of cold chicken ; and she looked in vain 
for a second plate. 

As she glanced across the table, she caught a 
momentary shade of embarrassment in Helbeck's face. 

' No, thank you,' he said. ' I am provided.' 

His provision seemed to be coffee and bread and 
butter. She raised her eyebrows involuntarily, but said 
nothing, and he presently busied himself in bringing 


her vegetables and wine, Mrs. Denton having left the 

' I trust you will make a good meal,' he said gravely, 
as he waited upon her. ' You have had a long day.' 

' Oh, yes ! ' said Miss Fountain, impetuously, ' and 
please don't ever make any difference for me on Fridays. 
It doesn't matter to me in the least what I eat.' 

Helbeck offered no reply. Conversation between them 
indeed did not flow very readily. They talked a little 
about the journey from London ; and Laura asked a few 
questions about the house. She was, indeed, studying the 
room in which they sat, and her host himself, all the 
time. ' He may be a saint,' she thought, ' but I am sure 
he knows all the time there are very few saints of such an 
old family ! His head's splendid so dark and fine 
with the great waves of grey-black hair and the long 
features and the pointed chin. He's immensely tall too 
six feet two at least taller than father. He looks hard 
and bigoted. I suppose most people would be afraid of 
him I'm not ! ' 

And as though to prove even to herself she was not, 
she carried on a rattle of questions. How old was the 
tower? How old was the room in which they were 
sitting ? She looked round it with ignorant, girlish eyes. 

He pointed her to the date on the carved mantelpiece 

' That is a very important date for us,' he began, then 
checked himself. 


He seemed to find a difficulty in going on, but at last 
he said : 

1 The man who put up that chimney-piece was 
hanged at Manchester later hi the same year.' 

'Why? what for?' 

He suddenly noticed the delicacy of her tiny wrist 


as her hand paused at the edge of her plate, and the 
brilliance of her eyes large and greenish-grey, with a 
marked black line round the iris. The very perception 
perhaps made his answer more cold and measured. 

' He was a Catholic recusant, under Elizabeth. He 
had harboured a priest, and he and the priest and a friend 
suffered death for it together at Manchester. Afterwards 
their heads were fixed on the outside of Manchester 
parish church.' 

' How horrible ! ' said Miss Fountain, frowning. ' Do 
you know anything more about him ? ' 

' Yes, we have letters ' 

But he would say no more, and the subject dropped. 
Not to let the conversation also come to an end, he pointed 
to some old gilded leather which covered one side of the 
room, while the other three walls were oak-panelled 
from ceiling to floor. 

' It is very dim and dingy now/ said Helbeck ; ' but 
when it was fresh, it was the wonder of the place. The 
room got the name of Paradise from it. There are many 
mentions of it in the old letters.' 

' Who put it up ? 

' The brother of the martyr twenty years later.' 

' The martyr ! ' she thought, half scornfully. ' No 
doubt he is as proud of that as of his twenty genera- 
tions ! ' 

He told her a few more antiquarian facts about the 
room, and its builders, she meanwhile looking in some 
perplexity from the rich embossments of the ceiling with 
its Tudor roses and crowns, from the stately mantelpiece 
and canopied doors, to the few pieces of shabby modem 
furniture which disfigured the room, the half-dozen cane 
chairs, the ugly lodging-house carpet and sideboard. 
What had become of the old furnishings ? How could 
they have disappeared so utterly ? 


Helbeck, however, did not enlighten her. He talked 
indeed with no freedom, merely to pass the time. 

She perfectly recognised that he was not at ease with 
her, and she hurried her meal, in spite of her very frank 
hunger, that she might set him free. But, as she was 
putting down her coffee-cup for the last time, she 
suddenly said : 

' It's a very good air here, isn't it, Mr. Helbeck ? ' 

'I believe so/ he replied, in some surprise. 'It's 
a mixture of the sea and the mountains. Everybody 
here most of the poor people live to a great age.' 

' That's all right ! Then Augustina will soon get strong 
here. She can't do without me yet but you know, of 
course I have decided about myself ? ' 

Somehow, as she looked across to her host, her little 
figure, in its plain white dress and black ribbons, expressed 
a curious tension. ' She wants to make it very plain to me ' 
thought Helbeck ' that if she comes here as my guest, 
it is only as a favour, to look after my sister.' 

Aloud he said : 

' Augustina told me she could not hope to keep you 
for long.' 

' No ! ' said the girl, sharply ' No ! I must take 
up a profession. I have a little money, you know 
from papa. I shall go to Cambridge, or to London, 
perhaps to live with a friend. Oh! you darling! you 
darling ! ' 

Helbeck opened his eyes in amazement. Miss 
Fountain had sprung from her seat, and thrown herself 
on her knees beside his old collie Bruno. Her arms were 
round the dog's neck, and she was pressing her cheek 
against his brown nose. Perhaps she caught her host's 
look of astonishment, for she rose at once in a flush of 
some feeling she tried to put down, and said, still holding 
the dog's head against her dress : 


' I didn't know you had a dog like this. It's so like 
ours you see like papa's. I had to give ours away 
when we left Folkestone. You dear, dear thing ! ' (the 
caressing intensity in the girl's young voice made Helbeck 
shrink and turn away) ' now you won't kill my Fricka, 
will you ? She's curled up, such a delicious black ball on 
my bed you couldn't you couldn't have the heart ! 
I'll take you up and introduce you I'll do everything 
proper ! ' 

The dog looked up at her, with its soft, quiet eyes, as 
though it weighed her pleadings. 

1 There,' she said triumphantly. ' It's all right he 
winked. Come along, my dear, and let's make real 

And she led the dog into the hall, Helbeck cere- 
moniously opening the door for her. 

She sat herself down in the oak settle beside the hall 
fire, where for some minutes she occupied herself entirely 
with the dog, talking a sort of baby language to him 
that left Helbeck absolutely dumb. When she raised 
her head, she flung, dartlike, another question at her 

' Have you many neighbours, Mr. Helbeck ? ' 

Her voice startled his look away from her. 

' Not many,' he said, hesitating. ' And I know little 
of those there are.' 

' Indeed ! Don't you like society ? ' 

He laughed with some embarrassment. ' I don't get 
much of it,' he said simply. 

' Don't you ? What a pity ! isn't it, Bruno ? I like 
Society dreadfully dances, theatres, parties all sorts 
of things. Or I did once.' 

She paused and stared at Helbeck. He did not 
speak, however. She sat up very straight and pushed 
the dog from her. 'By the way,' she said in a shrill 



voice, ' there are my cousins the Masons. How far are 
they ? ' 

' About seven miles. 1 

' Quite up in the mountains, isn't it ? ' 

Helbeck assented. 

' Oh ! I shall go there at once I shall go to-morrow,' 
said the girl with emphasis, resting her small chin 
lightly on the head of the dog, while she fixed her eyes 
her hostile eyes upon her host. 

Helbeck made no answer. He went to fetch another 
log for the fire. 

' Why doesn't he say something about them ? ' she 
thought angrily. ' Why doesn't he say something about 
papa ? about his illness ? ask me any questions ? He 
may have hated him but it would be only decent. He is 
a very grand, imposing person, I suppose, with his melan- 
choly airs, and his family Papa was worth a hundred 
of him ! Oh ! past a quarter to ten ? Time to go, and 
let him have his prayers to himself. Augustina told 
me ten.' 

She sprang up, and stiffly held out her hand. 

' Good-night, Mr. Helbeck. I ought to go to Augustina 
and settle her for the night. To-morrow I should like to 
tell you what the doctor said about her ; she is not strong 
at all. What time do you breakfast ? ' 

' Half -past eight. But, of course ' 

' Oh, no ! of course Augustina won't come down ! I 
will carry her up her tray myself. Good-night.' 

Helbeck touched her hand. But as she turned away, 
he followed her a few steps irresolutely, and then said : 
' Miss Fountain ' she looked round in surprise ' I 
should Like you to understand that everything that can 
be done in this poor house for my sister's comfort and 
yours I should wish done. My resources are not great, 
but my will is good.' ' 


He raised his eyelids, and she saw the eyes beneath, 
full, for the first tune eyes grey like her own, but far darker 
and profounder. She felt a momentary flutter, perhaps 
of compunction. Then she thanked him and went her 

When she had made her stepmother comfortable for 
the night, Laura Fountain went back to her room, 
shielding her candle with difficulty from the gusts that 
seemed to tear along the dark passages of the old house. 
The March rawness made her shiver, and she looked 
shrinkingly into the gloom before her, as she paused out- 
side her own door. There, at the end of the passage, lay 
the old tower ; so Mrs. Denton had told her. The thought 
of all the locked and empty rooms in it dark, cold spaces 
haunted perhaps by strange sounds and presences of 
the past, seemed to let loose upon her all at once a little 
whirlwind of fear. She hurried into her room, and was 
just setting down her candle before turning to lock her 
door, when a sound from the distant hall caught her 

A deep monotonous sound, rising and falling at regular 
intervals Mr. Helbeck reading prayers, with the two 
maids, who represented the only service of the house. 

Laura lingered with her hand on the door. In the 
silence of the ancient house, there was something touch- 
ing in the sound, a kind of appeal. But it was an appeal 
which, in the girl's mind, passed instantly into reaction. 
She locked the door, and turned away, breathing fast as 
though under some excitement. 

The tears, long held down, were rising, and the room, 
where a large wood fire was burning wood was the only 
provision of which there was a plenty at Bannisdale 
seemed to her suddenly stifling. She went to the case- 
ment window and threw it open. A rush of mild wind 



came through, and with it, the roar of the swollen 

The girl leant forward, bathing her hot face in the wild 
air. There was a dark mist of trees below her, trees 
tossed by the wind ; then, far down, a ray of moonlight 
on water; beyond, a fell-side, clear a moment beneath 
a sky of sweeping cloud ; and last of all, highest of all, 
amid the clouds, a dim radiance, intermittent and yet 
steady, like the radiance of moonlit snow. 

A strange nobility and freedom breathed from the 
wide scene ; from its mere depth below her ; from the 
spacious curve of the river, the mountains half shown, 
half hidden, the great race of the clouds, the fresh beat- 
ing of the wind. The north spoke to her, and the moun- 
tains. It was like the rush of something passionate and 
straining through her girlish sense ; intensifying all that 
was already there. What was this thirst, this yearning, 
this physical anguish of pity that crept back upon her in 
all the pauses of the day and night ? 

It was nine months since she had lost her father, but 
all the scenes of his last days were still so clear to her 
that it seemed to her often sheer incredibility that the 
room, the bed, the helpless form, the noise of the breath- 
ing, the clink of- the medicine glasses, the tread of the 
doctor, the gasping words of the patient, were all alike 
fragments and phantoms of the past that the house was 
empty, the bed sold, the patient gone. Oh ! the clinging 
of the thin hand round her own, the piteousness of suffer- 
ing of failure ! Poor, poor papa ! he would not say, 
even to comfort her, that they would meet again. He 
had not believed it and so she must not. 

No, and she would not ! She raised her head fiercely 
and dried her tears. Only why was she here in the 
house of a man who had never spoken to her father 
his brother-in-law for thirteen years who had made 


his sister feel that her marriage had been a disgrace 
who was all the time, no doubt, cherishing such thoughts 
in that black, proud head of his, while she, her father's 
daughter, was sitting opposite to him ? 

' How am I ever going to bear it all these months ? ' 
she asked herself. 



BUT the causes which had brought Laura Fountain to 
Bannisdale were very simple. It had all come about in 
the most natural inevitable way. 

When Laura was eight years old nearly thirteen years 
before this date her father, then a widower with one child, 
had fallen in with and married Alan Helbeck's sister. At the 
time of their first meeting with the little Catholic spinster, 
Stephen Fountain and his child were spending part of 
the Cambridge vacation at a village on the Cumberland 
coast where a fine air could be combined with cheap 
lodgings. Fountain himself was from the North Country. 
His grandfather had been a small Lancashire yeoman, 
and Stephen Fountain had an inbred liking for the 
fells, the farmhouses, and even the rain of his native 
district. Before descending to the sea, he and his child 
had spent a couple of days with his cousin by marriage, 
James Mason, in the lonely stone house among the hills, 
which had belonged to the family since the Revolution. 
He left it gladly, however, for the farm life seemed 
to him much harder and more squalid than he had 
remembered it to be, and he disliked James Mason's 
wife. As he and Laura walked down the long rough track 
connecting the farm with the main road on the day of 
their departure, Stephen Fountain whistled so loud and 
merrily that the skipping child beside him looked at him 
with astonishment. 


It was his way no doubt of thanking Providence for 
the happy chance that had sent his father to a small 
Local Government post at Newcastle, and himself to a 
grammar school with openings on the University. Yet as 
a rule he thought himself anything but a successful man. 
He held a lectureship at Cambridge in an obscure scientific 
subject, and was in his way both learned and diligent. 
But he had few pupils, and had never cared to have them. 
They interfered with his own research, and he had the 
passionate scorn for popularity which grows up naturally 
in those who have no power with the crowd. His 
religious opinions, or rather the manner in which he 
chose to express them, divided him from many good men. 
He was poor, and he hated his poverty. A rather 
imprudent marriage had turned out neither particularly 
well nor particularly ill. His wife had some beauty, 
however, and there was hardly time for disillusion. She 
died when Laura was still a tottering baby, and Stephen 
had missed her sorely for a while. Since her death he 
had grown to be a very lonely man, silently discontented 
with himself and sourly critical of his neighbours. 
Yet all the same he thanked God that he was not his 
cousin James. 

Potter's Beach as a watering-place was neither 
beautiful nor amusing. Laura was happy there, but that 
said nothing. All her childhood through she had the 
most surprising gift for happiness. From morning till 
night she lived in a flutter of delicious nothings. Unless 
he watched her closely, Stephen Fountain could not tell 
for the life of him what she was about all day. But he 
saw that she was endlessly about something ; her little 
hands and legs never rested ; she dug, bathed, dabbled, 
raced, kissed, ate, slept, in one happy bustle, which never 
slackened except for the hours when she lay rosy and still 
in her bed. And even then the pretty mouth was still 


eagerly open, as though sleep had just breathed upon its 
chatter for a few charmed moments, and ' the joy within ' 
was already breaking from the spell. 

Stephen Fountain adored her, but his affections were 
never enough for him. In spite of the child's spirits he 
himself found Potter's Beach a desolation, all the more 
that he was cut off from his books for a time by doctor's 
orders and his own common sense. Suddenly, as he took 
his daily walk over the sands with Laura, he began to 
notice a thin lady in black, sitting alone under a bank of 
sea-thistles, and generally struggling with an umbrella 
which she had put up to shelter herself and her book 
from a prevailing and boisterous wind. Sometimes when 
he passed her in the little street, he caught a glimpse of 
timid eyes, or he saw and pitied the slight involuntary 
jerk of the head and shoulders, which seemed to tell of 
nervous delicacy. Presently they made friends, and he 
found her lonely and discontented like himself. She was 
a Catholic, he discovered ; but her Catholicism was not 
that of the convert, but of an old inherited sort which 
sat easily enough on a light nature. Then, to his 
astonishment, it appeared that she lived with a brother 
at an old house in North Lancashire a well-known and 
even, in its degree, famous house which lay not seven 
miles distant from his grandfather's little property, and 
had been quite familiar to him by repute, and even by 
sight as a child. When he was a small lad staying 
at Browhead Farm, he had once or twice found his 
way to the Greet, and had strayed along its course 
through Bannisdale Park. Once even, when he was 
in the act of fishing a particular pool where the trout 
were rising in a manner to tempt a very archangel, he 
had been seized and his primitive rod broken over his 
shoulder by an old man whom he believed to have been 
the owner, Mr. Helbeck, himself a magnificent white- 


haired person, about whom tales ran freely in the country 

So this little shabby old maid was a Helbeck of 
Bannisdale ! As he looked at her, Fountain could not 
help thinking with a hidden amusement of all the awe- 
some prestige the name had once carried with it for 
his boyish ear. Thirty years back, what a gulf had 
seemed to yawn between the yeoman's grandson and the 
lofty owners of that stern and ancient house upon the 
Greet ! And now, how glad was old Helbeck's daughter 
to sit or walk with him and his child ! and how plain it 
grew, as the weeks passed on, that if he, Stephen Fountain, 
willed it, she would make no difficulty at all about a much 
longer companionship ! Fountain held himself to be the 
most convinced of democrats, a man who had a reasoned 
right to his Radical opinions that commoner folk must 
do without. Nevertheless, his pride fed on this small 
turn of fortune, and when he carelessly addressed his 
new friend, her name gave him pleasure. 

It seemed that she possessed but little else, poor lady. 
Even in his young days, Fountain could remember that 
the Helbecks were reported to be straitened, to have 
already much difficulty in keeping up the house and the 
estate. But clearly things had fallen by now to a much 
lower depth. Miss Helbeck's dress, talk, lodgings, all 
spoke of poverty, great poverty. He himself had never 
known what it was to have a superfluous ten pounds ; 
but the feverish strain that belongs to such a situation as 
the Helbecks' awoke in him a new and sharp pity. He 
was very sorry for the little harassed creature; that 
physical privation should touch a woman had always 
seemed to him a monstrosity. 

What was the brother about ? a great strong fellow 
by all accounts, capable, surely, of doing something for 
the family fortunes. Instinctively Fountain held him 


responsible for the sister's fatigue and delicacy. They 
had just lost their mother, and Augustina had come to 
Potter's Beach to recover from long months of nursing. 
And presently Fountain discovered that what stood 
between her and health was not so much the past as the 

' You don't like the idea of going home,' he said to 
her once abruptly, after they had grown intimate. She 
flushed, and hesitated ; then her eyes filled with tears. 

Gradually he made her explain herself. The brother, 
it appeared, was twelve years younger than herself, and 
had been brought up first at Stony hurst, and afterwards 
at Louvain, in constant separation from the rest of the 
family. He had never had much in common with his 
home, since, at Stonyhurst, he had come under the 
influence of a Jesuit teacher, who, in the language of old 
Helbeck, had turned him into ' a fond sort of fellow,' 
swarming with notions that could only serve to carry the 
family decadence a step further. 

' We have been Catholics for twenty generations,' 
said Augustina in her quavering voice. ' But our ways 
father's ways weren't good enough for Alan. We 
thought he was making up his mind to be a Jesuit, and 
father was mad about it, because of the old place. Then 
father died, and Alan came home. He and my mother 
got on best oh ! he was very good to her. But he and 
I weren't brought up in the same way you'd think he 
was already under a rule. I don't know I suppose it's 
too high for me ' 

She took up a handful of sand, and threw it, angrily, 
from her thin fingers, hurrying on, however, as if the 
unburdenment, once begun, must have its course. 

' And it's hard to be always pulled up and set right 
by some one you've nursed in his cradle. Oh ! I don't 
mean he says anything he and I never had words in 


our lives. But it's the way he has of doing things the 
changes he makes. You feel how he disapproves of 
you he doesn't like my friends our old friends tho 
house is like a desert since he came. And the money he 
gives away ! The priests just suck us dry and he 
hasn't got it to give. Oh ! I know it's all very wicked of 
me but when I think of going back to him just us two, 
you know, in that old house and all the trouble about 


Her voice failed her. 

' Well, don't go back,' said Fountain, laying his hand 
on her arm. 

And twenty-four hours later he was still pleased with 
himself and her. No doubt she was stupid, poor Augus- 
tina, and more ignorant than he had supposed a human 
being could be. Her only education seemed to have 
been supplied by two years at the ' Couvent des Dames 
Anglaises ' at St.-Omer, and all that she had retained from 
it was a small stock of French idioms, most of which she 
had forgotten how to use, though she did use them fre- 
quently, with a certain timid pretension. Of that habit 
Fountain, the fastidious, thought that he should break her. 
But for the rest, her religion, her poverty well, she had a 
hundred a year, so that he and Laura would be no worse 
off for taking her in, and the child's prospects, of course, 
should not suffer by a halfpenny. And as to the 
Catholicism, Fountain smiled to himself. No doubt 
there was some inherited feeling. But even if she did 
keep up her little mummeries, he could not see that they 
would do him or Laura any harm. And for the rest she 
suited him. She somehow crept into his loneliness and 
fitted it. He was getting too old to go farther, and he 
might well fare worse. In spite of her love of talk, she 
was not a bad listener ; and longer experience showed her 


to be in truth the soft and gentle nature that she seemed. 
She had a curious kind of vanity which showed itself in 
her feeling towards her brother. But Fountain did not 
find it disagreeable ; it even gave him pleasure to flatter 
it; as one feeds or caresses some straying half-starved 
creature, partly for pity, partly that the human will may 
feel its power. 

1 1 wonder how much fuss that young man will 
make,' Fountain asked himself, when at last it became 
necessary to write to Bannisdale. 

Augustina, however, was thirty-five, in full possession 
of her little moneys, and had no one to consult but herself. 
Fountain enjoyed the writing of the letter, which was 
brief, if not curt. 

Alan Helbeck appeared without an hour's delay at 
Potter's Beach. Fountain felt himself much inclined 
beforehand to treat the tall dark youth, sixteen years his 
junior, as a tutor treats an undergraduate. Oddly enough, 
however, when the two men stood face to face, Fountain 
was once more awkwardly conscious of that old sense of 
social distance which the sister had never recalled to him. 
The sting of it made him rougher than he had meant to 
be. Otherwise, the young man's very shabby coat, his 
superb good looks, and courteous reserve of manner 
might almost have disarmed the irritable scholar. 

As it was, Helbeck soon discovered that Fountain had 
no intention of allowing Augustina to apply for any 
dispensation for the marriage, that he would make no 
promise of Catholic bringing-up, supposing there were 
children, and that his idea was to be married at a registry 

' I am one of those people who don't trouble themselves 
about the affairs of another world,' said Fountain in a 
suave voice, as he stood in the lodging-house window, a 
bearded, broad-shouldered person, his hands thrust wil- 


fully into the very baggy pockets of his ill-fitting light 
suit. 'I won't worry your sister and I don't suppose 
there'll be any children. But if there are, I really can't 
promise to make Catholics of them. And as for myself, 
I don't take things so easy as it's the fashion to do now. 
I can't present myself in church, even for Augustina.' 

Helbeck sat silent for a few minutes with his eyes on 
the ground. Then he rose. 

'You ask what no Catholic should grant,' he said 
slowly. 'But that of course you know. I can have 
nothing to do with such a marriage, and my duty naturally 
will be to dissuade my sister from it as strongly as 

Fountain bowed. 

' She is expecting you,' he said. ' I of course await 
her decision.' 

His tone was hardly serious. Nevertheless, during 
the time that Helbeck and Augustina were pacing the 
sands together, Fountain went through a good deal of 
uneasiness. One never knew how or where this damned 
poison in the blood might break out again. That young 
fanatic, a Jesuit already by the look of him, would of 
course try all their inherited Mumbo Jumbo upon her ; 
and what woman is at bottom anything more than the 
prey of the last speaker ? 

When, however, it was all over, and he was allowed 
to see his Augustina in the evening, he found her helpless 
with crying indeed, but as obstinate as only the meek of 
the earth can be. She had broken wholly with her 
brother and with Bannisdale; and Fountain gathered 
that, after all Helbeck's arguments and entreaties, there 
had flashed a moment of storm between them, when the 
fierce ' Helbeck temper,' traditional through many genera- 
tions, had broken down the self-control of the ascetic, and 
Augustina must needs have trembled. However, there 


she was, frightened and miserable, but still determined. 
And her terror was much more concerned with the 
possibility of any return to live with Alan and his all- 
exacting creed than anything else. Fountain caught 
himself wondering whether indeed she had imagination 
enough to lay much hold on those spiritual terrors with 
which she had no doubt been threatened. In this, how- 
ever, he misjudged her, as will be seen. 

Meanwhile he sent for an elderly Evangelical cousin 
of his wife's, who was accustomed to take a friendly 
interest in his child and himself. She, in Protestant 
jubilation over this brand snatched from the burning, 
came in haste, very nearly departing, indeed, in similar 
haste as soon as the unholy project of the secular marriage 
was mooted. However, under much persuasion she 
remained, lamenting ; Augustina sent to Bannisdale for 
her few possessions, and the scanty ceremony was soon 

Meanwhile Laura had but found in the whole affair 
one more amusement and excitement added to the many 
that, according to her, Potter's Beach already possessed. 
The dancing elfish child who had no memory of her 
own mother had begun by taking the little old maid 
under her patronising wing. She graciously allowed 
Augustina to make a lap for all the briny treasures she 
might accumulate in the course of a breathless morning ; 
she rushed to give her first information whenever that 
encroaching monster the sea broke down her castles. 
And as soon as it appeared that her papa liked Augustina, 
and had a use for her, Laura at the age of eight promptly 
accepted her as part of the family circle, without the 
smallest touch of either sentiment or opposition. She 
walked gaily hand in hand with her father to the registry 
office at St. Bees. The jealously hidden stormy little 
heart knew well enough that it had nothing to fear. 


Then came many quiet years at Cambridge. Augustina 
spoke no more of her brother, and apparently let her old 
creed slip. She conformed herself wholly to her husband's 
ways a little colourless thread on the stream of academic 
life, slightly regarded, and generally silent out of doors, 
but at home a gentle, foolish, and often voluble person, 
very easily made happy by some small kindness and a few 
creature comforts. 

Laura meanwhile grew up, and no one exactly knew 
how. Her education was a thing of shreds and patches, 
managed by herself throughout, and expressing her own 
strong will or caprice from the beginning. She put her- 
self to school a day school only ; and took herself away 
as soon as she was tired of it. She threw herself madly 
into physical exercises like dancing or skating ; and ex- 
celled in most of them by virtue of a certain wild grace, a 
tameless strength of spirits and will. And yet she grew 
up small and pale ; and it was not till she was about 
eighteen that she suddenly blossomed into prettiness. 

' Carrotina why, what's happened to you ? ' said her 
father to her one day. 

She turned in astonishment from her task of putting 
some books tidy on his study shelves. Then she coloured 
half angrily. 

1 1 must put my hair up some time, I suppose,' she said 
resentfully. There was something in the abruptness of 
her father's question, no less than in the new closeness and 
sharpness of eye with which he was examining her, that 
annoyed her. 

' Well you've made a young lady of yourself. I dare 
say I mustn't call you nicknames any more ! ' 

'I don't mind,' she said indifferently, going on with 
her work, while he looked at the golden-red mass she had 
coiled round her little head, with an odd half welcome 
sense of change, a sudden prescience of the future. 


Then she turned again. 

' If if you make any absurd changes,' she said with a 
frown, ' I'll I'll cut it all off! ' 

1 You'd better not there'd be ructions,' he said, laugh- 
ing. ' It's not yours till you're twenty-one.' 

And to himself he said, ' Gracious ! I didn't bargain for 
a pretty daughter. What am I to do with her ? Augus- 
tina 11 never get her married.' 

And certainly during this early youth, Laura showed 
no signs of getting herself married. She did not apparently 
know when a young man was by ; and her bright vehe- 
ment ways, her sharp turns of speech, went on just the 
same ; she neither quivered nor thrilled ; and her chatter, 
when she did chatter, spent itself almost with indifference 
on anyone who came near her. She was generally gay, 
generally in spirits ; and her girl companions knew well 
that there was no one so reserved, and that the inmost 
self of her, if such a thing existed, dwelt far away from 
any ken of theirs. Every now and then she would have 
vehement angers and outbreaks which contrasted with 
the nonchalance of her ordinary temper ; but it was hard 
to find the clue to them. 

Altogether she passed for a clever girl, even in a Uni- 
versity town, where cleverness is weighed. But her educa- 
tion, except in two points, was, in truth, of the slightest. 
Any mechanical drudgery that her father could set her, 
she did without a murmur ; or, rather, she claimed it 
jealously, with a silent passion. But, with an obstinacy 
equally silent, she set herself against the drudgery that 
would have made her his intellectual companion. 

His rows of technical books the scholarly and labo- 
rious details of his work, filled her with an invincible 
repugnance. And he did not attempt to persuade her. 
As to women and their claims, he was old-fashioned and 
contemptuous; he would have been much embarrassed 


by a learned daughter. That she should copy and tidy 
for him ; that she should sit curled up for hours with a 
book or a piece of work in a corner of his room ; that she 
should bring him his pipe, and break in upon his work at 
the right moment with her peremptory ' Papa, come out ! ' 
these things were delightful, nay, necessary to him. 
But he had no dreams beyond ; and he never thought of 
her, her education or her character, as a whole. It was 
not his way. Besides, girls took their chance. With a 
boy, of course, one plans and looks ahead. But Laura would 
have 200L a year from her mother whatever happened, and 
something more at his own death. Why trouble oneself ? 
No doubt indirectly he contributed very largely to her 
growing up. The sight of his work and his methods ; 
the occasional talks she overheard between him and his 
scientific comrades ; the tones of irony and denial in the 
atmosphere about him ; his antagonisms, his bitternesses, 
worked strongly upon her still plastic nature. Moreover 
she felt to her heart's core that he was unsuccessful ; 
there were appointments he should have had, but had 
failed to get, and it was the religious party, the ' clerical 
crew ' in Congregation or the Senate, that had stood in 
the way. From her childhood it came natural to her to 
hate bigoted people who believed in ridiculous things. 
It was they stood between her father and his deserts. 
There loomed up, as it were, on her horizon, something 
dim and majestic, which was called Science. Towards 
this her father pressed, she clinging to him ; while all 
about them was a black and hindering crowd, through 
which they clove their way contemptuously. 

In one direction, indeed, Fountain admitted her to his 
mind. Like Mill, he found the rest and balm of life in 
poetry ; and here he took Laura with him. They read to 
each other, they spurred each other to learn by heart. 
He kept nothing from her. Shelley was a passion of his 


own ; it became hers. She taught herself German, that 
she might read Heine and Goethe with him ; and one 
evening, when she was little more than sixteen, he rushed 
her through the first part of ' Faust,' so that she lay awake 
the whole night afterwards in such a passion of emotion, 
that it seemed, for the moment, to change her whole exist- 
ence. Sometimes it astonished him to see what capacity 
she had, not only for the feeling, but for the sensuous 
pleasure, of poetry. Lines sounds haunted her for days, 
the beauty of them would make her start and tremble. 

She did her best, however, to hide this side of her 
nature even from him. And it was not difficult. She 
remained childishly immature and backward in many 
things. She was a personality ; that was clear ; one could 
hardly say that she was or had a character. She was a 
bundle of loves and hates ; a force, not an organism ; and 
her father was often as much puzzled by her as any one 

Music perhaps was the only study which ever con- 
quered her indolence. Here it happened that a famous 
musician who settled in Cambridge for a time, came across 
her gift and took notice of it. And to please him she 
worked with industry, even with doggedness. Brahms, 
Chopin, Wagner these great romantics possessed her in 
music as Shelley or Eossetti did in poetry. ' You little 
demon, Laura ! How do you come to play like that ? ' 
a girl friend her only intimate friend said to her once in 
despair. ' It's the expression. Where do you get it ? And 
I practise, and you don't ; it's not fair.' 

1 Expression ! ' said Laura, with annoyance ' what does 
that matter ? That's the amateur all over. Of course I play 
like that because I can't do it any better. If I could play 
the, notes ' she clenched her little hand, with a curious, 
almost a fierce energy 'if I had any technique or 
was ever likely to have any, what should I want with 


expression ? Any cat can give you expression ! There 
was one under my window last night you should just 
have heard it.' 

Molly Friedland, the girl-friend, shrugged her shoulders. 
She was as soft, as normal, as self-controlled, as Laura 
was wilful and irritable. But there was a very real 
affection between them. 

Years passed. Insensibly Augustina's health began to 
fail ; and with it the new cheerfulness of her middle life. 
Then Fountain himself fell suddenly and dangerously ill. 
All the peaceful habits and small pleasures of their 
common existence broke down after a few days, as it were, 
into a miserable confusion. Augustina stood bewildered. 
Then a convulsion of soul she had expected as little as 
any one else, swept upon her. A number of obscure, in- 
herited, half-dead instincts revived. She lived in terror ; 
she slept, weeping; and at the back of an old drawer 
she found a rosary of her childhood to which her fingers 
clung night and day. 

Meanwhile Fountain resigned himself to death. 
During his last days his dimmed senses did not perceive 
what was happening to his wife. But he troubled himself 
about her a good deal. 

' Take care of her, Laura ' he said once ' till she 
gets strong. Look after her. But you can't sacrifice 
your life. It may be Christian ' he added, in a murmur, 
' but it isn't sense.' 

Unconsciousness came on. Augustina seemed to 
lose her wits ; and at last only Laura, sitting pale and 
fierce beside her father, prevented her stepmother from 
bringing a priest to his death-bed. ' You would not 
dare \ ' said the girl in her low, quivering voice ; and 
Augustina could only wring her hands. 

The day *after her husband died Mrs. Fountain 


returned to her Catholic duties. When she came back 
from confession, she slipped as noiselessly as she could 
into the darkened house. A door opened upstairs, and 
Laura came out of her father's room. 

' You have done it ? ' she said, as her stepmother, trem- 
bling with agitation and weariness, came towards her. 
' You have gone back to them ? ' 

' Oh, Laura ! I had to follow the call my conscience 
Laura ! oh ! your poor father ! ' 

And with a burst of weeping the widow held out her 

Laura did not move, and the hands dropped. 

' My father wants nothing,' she said. 

The indescribable pride and passion of her accent 
cowed Augustina, and she moved away, crying silently. 
The girl went back to the dead, and sat beside him, in an 
anguish that had no more tears, till he was taken from her. 

Mr. Helbeck wrote kindly to his sister in reply to a 
letter from her informing him of her husband's death, 
and of her own reconciliation with the Church. He asked 
whether he should come at once to help them through 
the business of the funeral, and the winding up of their 
Cambridge life. 'Beg him, please, to stay away,' said 
Laura, when the letter was shown her. ' There are 
plenty of people here.' 

And indeed Cambridge, which had taken little notice 
of the Fountains during Stephen's lifetime, was even 
fussily kind after his death to his widow and child. It 
.was at all times difficult to be kind to Laura in distress, 
.but there was much true pity felt for her, and a good 
deal of curiosity as to her relations with her Catholic 
stepmother. Only from the Friedlands, however, would 
she accept, or allow her stepmother to accept, any real 
help. Dr. Friedland was a man of middle age, who had 


retired on moderate wealth to devote himself to historical 
work by the help of the Cambridge libraries. He had 
been much drawn to Stephen Fountain, and Fountain to 
him. It was a recent and a brief friendship, but there 
had been something in it on Dr. Friedland's side some- 
thing respectful and cordial, something generous and 
understanding, for which Laura loved the infirm and 
grey-haired scholar, and would always love him. She 
shed some stormy tears after parting with the Friedlands, 
otherwise she left Cambridge with joy. 

On the day before they left Cambridge Augustina 
received a parcel of books from her brother. For the 
most part they were kept hidden from Laura. But in 
the evening, when the girl was doing some packing in her 
stepmother's room, she came across a little volume lying 
open on its face. She lifted it, saw that it was called 
'Outlines of Catholic Belief,' and that one page was 
still wet with tears. An angry curiosity made her look 
at what stood there : ' A believer in one God who, with- 
out wilful fault on his part knows nothing of the Divine 
Mystery of the Trinity, is held capable of salvation by 
many catholic theologians. And there is the " invincible 
ignorance " of the heathen. What else is possible to the 
Divine mercy let none of us presume to know. Our part 
in these matters is obedience, not speculation.' 

In faint pencil on the margin was written : ' My 
Stephen could not believe. Mary pray ' 

The book contained the Bannisdale book-plate, and the 
name ' Alan Helbeck.' Laura threw it down. But her 
face trembled through its scorn, and she finished what 
she was doing in a kind of blind passion. It was as 
though she held her father's dying form in her arms, 
protecting him against the same meddling and tyrannical 
force that had injured him while he lived, and was still 
making mouths at him now that he was dead. 


She and Augustina went to the sea to Folkestone, 
for Augustina's health. Here Mrs. Fountain began to 
correspond regularly with her brother, and it was soon, 
clear that her heart was hungering for him, and for her 
old home at Bannisdale. But she was still painfully 
dependent on Laura. Laura was her maid and nurse ; 
Laura managed all her business. At last one day she, 
made her prayer. Would Laura go with her for a little 
while to Bannisdale ? Alan wished it Alan had invited; 
them both. ' He would be so good to you, Laura and I'm, 
sure it would set me up.' 

Laura gave a gulp. She dropped her little chin on 
her hands and thought. Well why not ? It would be 
all hateful to her Mr. Helbeck and his house together. 
She knew very well, or guessed what his relation to her 
father had been. But what if it made Augustina strong- 
if in time she could be left with her brother altogether, 
to live with him ? in one or two of his letters he had pro- 
posed as much. Why, that would bring Laura's respon- 
sibility, her sole responsibility, at any rate, to an end. 

She thought of Molly Friedland of their girlish plans 
of travel, of music. 

' All right,' she said, springing up. ' We will go, 
Augustina. I suppose, for a little while, Mr. Helbeck 
and I can keep the peace. You must tell him to let me 

She paused, then said with sudden vehemence, like, 
one who takes her stand ' And tell him, please, Augus- 
tina make it very plain that I shall never come in to 



THE sun was shining into Laura's room when she awoke. 
She lay still for a little while, looking about her. 

Her room which formed part of an eighteenth-cen- 
tury addition to the Tudor house was rudely panelled 
with stained deal, save on the fireplace wall, where, on 
either side of the hearth, the plaster had been covered 
with tapestry. The subject of the tapestry was Diana 
hunting. Diana, white and tall, with her bow and quiver, 
came, queenly, through a green forest. Two greyhounds 
ranged beside her, and in the dim distance of the wood 
her maidens followed. On the right an old castle, with 
pillars like a Greek temple, rose stately but a little 
crooked on the edge of a blue sea ; the sea much 
faded, with the wooden handle of a cupboard thrust 
rudely through it. Two long-limbed ladies, with pulled 
patched faces, stood on the castle steps. In front was a 
ship, with a waiting warrior and a swelling sail ; and under 
him, a blue wave worn very threadbare, shamed indeed 
by that intruding handle, but still blue enough, still 
windy enough for thoughts of love and flight. 

Laura, half asleep still, with her hands under her 
cheek, lay staring in a vague pleasure at the castle and 
the forest. ' Enchanted casements ' ' perilous seas ' 
' in fairy lands forlorn.' The lines ran sleepily, a little 
jumbled, in her memory. 

But gradually the morning and the freshness worked; 


and her spirits, emerging from their half-dream, began to 
dance within her. When she sprang up to throw the 
window wide, there below her was the sparkling river, 
the daffodils waving their pale heads in the delicate 
Westmoreland grass, the high white clouds still racing 
before the wind. How heavenly to find oneself in this 
wild clean country ! after all the ugly squalors of parade 
and lodging-house, after the dingy bow-windowed streets 
with the March dust whirling through them. 

She leant across the broad window-sill, her chin 
on her hands, absorbed, drinking it in. The eastern 
sun, coming slanting-ways, bathed her tumbled masses 
of fair hair, her little white form, her bare feet raised 

Suddenly she drew back. She had seen the figure of 
a man crossing the park on the further side of the river, 
and the maidenly instinct drove her from the window ; 
though the man in question was perhaps a quarter of a 
mile away, and had he been looking for her, could not 
possibly have made out more than a pale speck on the 
old wall. 

' Mr. Helbeck ' she thought ' by the height of him. 
Where is he off to before seven o'clock in the morning ? 
I hate a man that can't keep rational hours like other 
people ! Fricka, come here ! ' 

For her little dog, who had sprung from the bed after 
its mistress, was now stretching and blinking behind her. 
At Laura's voice it jumped up and tried to lick her face. 
Laura caught it in her arms and sat down on the bed, 
still hugging it. 

' No, Fricka, I don't like him I don't, I don't, I don't ! 
But you and I have just got to behave. If you annoy that 
big dog downstairs, he'll break your neck he will, Fricka. 
As for me' she shrugged her small shoulders 'well, 
Mr. Helbeck can't break my neck, so I'm dreadfully 


afraid I shall annoy him dreadfully, dreadfully afraid ! 
But I'll try not. You see, what we've got to do, is just 
to get Augustina well stand over her with a broomstick 
and pour the tonics down her throat. Then, Fricka, 
we'll go our way and have some fun. Now look at 
us ! ' 

She moved a little, so that the cracked glass on the 
dressing-table reflected her head and shoulders, with the 
dog against her neck. 

'You know we're not at all bad-looking, Fricka 
neither of us. I've seen much worse. (Oh ! Fricka ! I've 
told you scores of times I can wash my face without 
you thank you !) There's all sorts of nice things that 
might happen if we just put ourselves in the way of 
them. Oh ! I do want some fun I do ! at least some- 
times ! ' 

But again the voice dropped suddenly ; the big greenish 
eyes filled in a moment with inconsistent tears, and 
Laura sat staring at the sunshine, while the drops fell on 
her white nightgown. 

Meanwhile Fricka, being half throttled, made a violent 
effort and escaped. Laura too sprang up, wiped away her 
tears as though she were furious with them, and began to 
look about her for the means of dressing. Everything in 
the room was of the poorest and scantiest the cottage 
washstand with its crockery, the bare dressing-table and 
dilapidated glass. 

' A bath ! my kingdom for a bath ! I don't mind 
starving, but one must wash. Let's ring for that rough- 
haired girl, Fricka, and try and get round her. Goodness ! 
no bells ? ' 

After long search, however, she discovered a tattered 
shred of tapestry hanging in a corner, and pulled it 
vigorously. Many efforts, however, were needed before 
there was a sound of feet in the passage outside. Laura 


hastily donned a blue dressing-gown, and stood expec- 

The door was opened unceremoniously and a girl 
thrust in her head. Laura had made acquaintance with 
her the night before. She was the housekeeper's under- 
ling and niece. 

' Mrs. Denton says I'm not to stop. She's noa time 
for answerin bells. And you'll have some hot water 
when t' kettle boils.' 

The door was just shutting again when Laura sprang 
at the speaker and caught her by the arm. 

'My dear,' she said, dragging the girl in, 'that won't 
do at all. Now look here ' she held up her little white 
hand, shaking the forefinger with energy ' I don't 
want to give any trouble, and Mrs. Denton may keep 
her hot water. But I must have a bath and a big can 
and somebody must show me where to go for water and 
then then, my dear if you make yourself agreeable, 
I'll well, I'll teach you how to do your hair on 
Sundays in a way that will surprise you ! ' 

The girl stared at her in sudden astonishment, her 
dark stupid eyes wavering. She had a round, peasant 
face, not without comeliness, and a lustreless shock of 
black hair. Laura laughed. 

1 1 will,' she said, nodding ; ' you'll see. And I'll give 
you notions for your best frock. I'll be a regular elder 
sister to you if you'll just do a few things for me and 
Mrs. Fountain. What's your name Ellen ? that's all 
right. Now, is there a bath in the house ? ' 

The girl unwillingly replied that there was one in the 
big room at the end of the passage. 

' Show it me,' said Laura, and marched her off there. 
The rough-headed one led the way along the panelled 
passage and opened a door. 

Then it was Laura's turn to stare. 


Inside she saw a vast room with finely panelled 
walls and a decorated ceiling. The sunlight poured in, 
through an uncurtained window upon the only two 
objects in the room a magnificent bed, carved and gilt, 
with hangings of tarnished brocade and a round tin bath 
of a common, old-fashioned make, propped up against 
the wall. The oak boards were absolutely bare. The 
bed and the bath looked at each other. 

' What's become of all the furniture ? ' said Laura, 
gazing round her in astonishment. 

1 The gentleman from Edinburgh had it all, lasst 
month,' said the girl, still sullenly. 'He's affther the 
bed now.' 

' Oh ! Does he often come here ? ' 
The girl hesitated. 

' Well, he's had a lot o' things oot o' t' house, sen I 

' Has he ? ' said Laura. ' Now then lend a hand.' 
Between them they carried off the bath; and then 
Laura informed herself where water was to be had, and 
when breakfast would be ready. 

'T' Squire's gone oot,' said Ellen, still watching 
the newcomer from under a pair of very black and beet- 
ling brows ; ' and Mrs. Denton said she supposed yo'd 
be wantin a tray for Mrs. Fountain.' 
' Does the Squire take no breakfast ? ' 
' Noa. He's away to Mass ivery mornin, an' he gets 
his breakfast wi' Father Bowles.' 
The girl's look grew more hostile. 
' Oh, does he ? ' said Laura in a tone of meditation. 
'Well then, look here. Put another cup and another 
plate on Mrs. Fountain's tray, and I'll have mine with 
her. Shall I come down to the kitchen for it ? ' 

' Noa,' said the girl hastily. ' Mrs. Denton doan't 
like foak i' t' kitchen.' 


At that moment a call in Mrs. Denton's angriest tones 
came pealing along the passage outside. Laura laughed 
and pushed the girl out of the room. 

An hour later Miss Fountain was ministering to her 
stepmother in the most comfortable bedroom that the 
house afforded. The furniture, indeed, was a medley. It 
seemed to have been gathered out of many other, rooms. 
But at any rate there was abundance of it; a carpet 
much worn, but still useful, covered the floor ; and Ellen 
had lit the fire without being summoned to do it. Laura 
recognised that Mr. Helbeck must have given a certain 
number of precise orders on the subject of his sister. 

Poor Mrs. Fountain, however, was not happy. She 
was sitting up in bed, wrapped in an unbecoming flannel 
jacket Augustina had no taste in clothes and looking 
with an odd repugnance at the very passable breakfast 
that Laura placed before her. Laura did not quite know 
what to make of her. In old days she had always 
regarded her stepmother as an easy-going, rather self- 
indulgent creature, who liked pleasant food and stuffed 
chairs, and could be best managed or propitiated through 
some attention to her taste in sofa-cushions or in tea- 

No doubt, since Mrs. Fountain's reconciliation with 
the Church of her fathers, she had shown sometimes an 
anxious disposition to practise the usual austerities of 
good Catholics. But neither doctor nor director had 
been able to indulge her in this respect, owing to the 
feebleness of her health. And on the whole she had 
acquiesced readily enough. 

But Laura found her now changed and restless. 

' Oh ! Laura, I can't eat all that ! ' 
; ' You must,' said Laura firmly. ' Eeally, Augustina, 
you must' 


'Alan's gone out,' said Augustina with a wistful incon- 
sequence, straining her eyes as though to look through 
the diamond panes of the window opposite, at the park 
and the persons walking in it. 

' Yes. He seems to go to Whinthorpe every morning 
for Mass. Ellen says he breakfasts with the priest.' 

Augustina sighed and fidgeted. But when she was 
halfway through her meal, Laura standing over her, she 
suddenly laid a shaking hand on Laura's arm. 

' Laura ! Alan's a saint ! he always was long ago 
when I was so blind and wicked. But now oh ! the 
things Mrs. Denton's been telling me ! ' 

' Has she ? ' said Laura coolly. ' Well, make up your 
mind, Augustina ' she shook her bright head ' that you 
can't be the same kind of saint that he is anyway.' 

Mrs. Fountain withdrew her hand in quick offence. 

'I should be glad if you could talk of these things 
without flippancy, Laura. When I think how incapable 
I have been all these years, of understanding my dear 
brother ' 

' No you see you were living with papa,' said Laura 

She had left her stepmother's side, and was standing 
with her back to an old cabinet, resting her elbows upon 
it. Her brows were drawn together, and poor Mrs. 
Fountain, after a glance at her, looked still more miserable. 

' Your poor papa ! ' she murmured with a gulp, and 
then, as though to propitiate Laura, she drew her break- 
fast back to her, and again tried to eat it. Small and 
slight as they both were, there was a very sharp contrast 
between her and her stepdaughter. Laura's features 
were all delicately clear, and nothing could have been 
more definite, more brilliant than the colour of the eyes 
and hair, or the whiteness which was a beautiful 
and healthy whiteness of her skin. Whereas every- 


thing about Mrs. Fountain was indeterminate ; the 
features with their slight twist to the left ; the com- 
plexion, once fair, and now reddened by years and 
ill health ; the hair, of a yellowish grey ; the head and 
shoulders with their nervous infirmity. Only the eyes 
still possessed some purity of colour. Through all their 
timidity or wavering, they were still blue and sweet; 
perhaps they alone explained why a good many persons 
including her stepdaughter were fond of Augustina. 

' What has Mrs. Denton been telling you about Mr. 
Helbeck ? ' Laura inquired, speaking with some abrupt- 
ness, after a pause. 

' You wouldn't have any sympathy, Laura/ said Mrs. 
Fountain in some agitation. ' You see, you don't under- 
stand our Catholic principles. I wish you did ! oh ! I 
wish you did! But you don't. And so perhaps I'd 
better not talk about it.' 

' It might interest me to know the facts/ said Laura, 
in a little hard voice. ' It seems to me that I'm likely to 
be Mr. Helbeck's guest for a good while.' 

' But you won't like it, Laura ! ' cried Mrs. Fountain 
1 and you'll misunderstand Alan. Your poor dear father 
always misunderstood him.' (Laura made a restless 
movement.) 'It is not because we think we can save 
our souls by such things of course not ! that's the way 
you Protestants put it ' 

' I'm not a Protestant ! ' said Laura hotly. Mrs. 
Fountain took no notice. 

' But it's what the Church calls " mortification," ' she 
said, hurrying on. ' It's keeping the body under as St. 
Paul did. That's what makes saints and it does make 
saints whatever people say. Your poor father didn't 
agree, of course. But he didn't know oh ! dear, dear 
Stephen ! he didn't know. And Alan isn't cross, and it 
doesn't spoil his health it doesn't, really.' 


' What does he do ? ' asked Laura, trying for the point. 

But poor Augustina, in her mixed flurry of feeling, 
could hardly explain. 

1 You see, Laura, there's a strict way of keeping Lent, 
and well just the common way doing as little as you 
can. It used to be all much stricter, of course." 

'In the Dark Ages?' suggested Laura. Augustina 
took no notice. 

' And what the books tell you now, is much stricter 
than what anybody does. I'm sure I don't know why. 
But Alan takes it strictly he wants to go back to quite 
the old ways. Oh ! I wish I could explain it ' 

Mrs. Fountain stopped bewildered. She was sure she 
had heard once that in the early Church people took no 
food at all till the evening not even a drink. But Alan 
was not going to do that ? 

Laura had taken Fricka on her knee, and was 
straightening the ribbon round the dog's neck. 

' Does he eat anything ? ' she asked carelessly, looking 
up. ' If it's nothing that would be interesting.' 

' Laura ! if you only would try and understand ! Of 
course Alan doesn't settle such a thing for himself 
nobody does with us. That's only in the English 

Augustina straightened herself, with an unconscious 
arrogance. Laura looked at her, smiling. 

1 Who settles it, then ? ' f 

1 Why, his director, of course. He must have leave. 
But they have given him leave. He has chosen a rule 
for himself ' Augustina gave a visible gulp 'and he 
called Mrs. Denton to him before Lent, and told her 
about it. Of course he'll hide it as much as he can. 
Catholics must never be singular never ! But if we live 
in the house with him he can't hide it. And all Lent, he 
only eats meat on Sundays, and other days he wrote 


down a list Well, it's like the saints that's all ! 

I just cried over it ! ' 

Mrs. Fountain shook with the emotion of saying such 
things to Laura, but her blue eyes flamed. 

' What ! fish and eggs ? that kind of thing ? ' said 
Laura. ' As if there was any hardship in that ! ' 

' Laura ! how can you be so unkind ? I must just 
keep it all to myself. I won't tell you anything ! ' cried 
Augustina in exasperation. 

Laura walked away to the window, and stood looking 
out at the March buds on the sycamores shining above 
the river. 

' Does he make the servants fast too ? ' she asked 
presently, turning her head over her shoulder. 

' No, no,' said her stepmother eagerly ; ' he's never 
hard to them only to himself. The Church doesn't 
expect anything more than " abstinence," you under- 
stand not real fasting from people like them people 
who work hard with their hands. But I really believe 
they do very much as he does. Mrs. Denton seems to 
keep the house on nothing. Oh ! and, Laura I really 
can't be always having extra things ! ' 

Mrs. Fountain pushed her breakfast away from her. 

' Please remember nobody settles anything for them- 
selves in your Church,' said Laura. ' You know what that 
doctor that Catholic doctor said to you at Folkestone.' 

Mrs. Fountain sighed. 

'And as to Mrs. Denton, I see that explains the 
manners. No improvement till Lent's over ? ' 
' Laura ! ' 

But her stepdaughter, who was at the window again 
looking out, paid no heed, and presently Augustina said 
with timid softness 

' Won't you have your breakfast, Laura ? You know 
it's here on my tray.' 


Laura turned, and Augustina to her infinite relief 
saw not frowns, but a face all radiance. 

' I've been watching the lambs in the field across the 
river. Such ridiculous enchanting things ! such jumps 
and affectations. And the river's heavenly and all the 
general feel of it ! I really don't know, Augustina, how 
you ever came to leave this country when you'd once 
been born in it.' 

Mrs. Fountain pushed away her tray, shook her head 
sadly, and said nothing. 

1 What is it ? and who is it ? ' cried Laura, standing 
amazed before a picture in the drawing-room at Bannis- 

In front of her, on the panelled wall, hung a dazzling 
portrait of a girl in white, a creature light as a flower 
under wind ; eyes upraised and eager, as though to 
welcome a lover ; fair hair bound turban-like with a white 
veil ; the pretty hands playing with a book. It shone 
from the brown wall with a kind of natural sovereignty 
over all below it and around it, so brilliant was the 
picture, so beautiful the woman. 

Augustina looked up drearily. She was sitting shrunk 
together in a large chair, deep in some thoughts of her 

1 That's our picture the famous picture,' she explained 

' Your Komney ? ' said Laura, vaguely recalling some 
earlier talk of her stepmother's. 

Augustina nodded. She stared at the picture with a 
curious agitation, as though she were seeing its long 
familiar glories for the first time. Laura was much 
puzzled by her. 

' Well, but it's magnificent ! ' cried the girl. ' One 
needn't know much to know that. How can Mr. 



Helbeck call himself poor while he possesses such a 
thing ? ' 

Augustina started. 

' It's worth thousands,' she said hastily. ' We know 
that. There was a man from London came once, years 
ago. But papa turned him out he would never sell his 
things. And she was our great grandmother.' 

An idea flashed through Laura's mind. 

1 You don't mean to say that Mr. Helbeck is going to 
sell her ? ' said Laura impetuously. ' It would be a 
shame ! ' 

' Alan can do what he likes with anything,' said Augus- 
tina in a quick resentment. ' And he wants money 
badly for one of his orphanages some of it has to be 
rebuilt. Oh ! those orphanages how they must have 
weighed on him poor Alan ! poor dear Alan ! all these 
years ! ' 

Mrs. Fountain clasped her thin hands together, with a 

' Is it they that have eaten up the house bit by bit? 
poor house ! poor dear house ! ' repeated Laura. 

She was staring with an angry championship at the 
picture. Its sweet confiding air, as of one cradled in love, 
happy for generations in the homage of her kindred and 
the shelter of the old house, stood for all the natural 
human things that creeds and bigots were always 
trampling under foot. 
. , Mrs. Fountain, however, only shook her head. 

' I don't think Alan's settled anything yet. Only Mrs. 
Denton's afraid. There was somebody came to see it a 
few days ago ' 

' He certainly ought not to sell it,' repeated Laura with 
emphasis. ' He has to think of the people that come 
after. What will they care for orphanages? He only 
holds the picture in trust.' 


' There will be no one to come after,' said Augustina 
slowly. ' For of course he will never marry.' 

' Is he too great a saint for that too ? ' cried Laura. 
' Then all I can say, Augustina, is that it would do 
him a great deal of good.' 

She beat her little foot on the ground impatiently, 
pointing the words. 

'You don't know anything about him, Laura,' said 
Mrs. Fountain, with an attempt at spirit. Then she 
added reproachfully ' and I'm sure he wants to be kind 
to you.' 

' He thinks me a little heretical toad, thank you ! ' 
said Laura, spinning round on the bare boards, and 
dropping a curtsey to the Eomney. 'But never mind, 
Augustina we shall get on quite properly. Now, aren't 
there a great many more rooms to see ? ' 

Augustina rose uncertainly. ' There is the chapel, of 
course,' she said, ' and Alan's study ' 

' Oh ! we needn't go there,' said Laura hastily. ' But 
show me the chapel.' 

Mr. Helbeck was still absent, and they had been ex- 
ploring Bannisdale. It was a melancholy progress they 
had been making through a house that had once when 
Augustina left it stood full of the hoardings and the 
treasures of generations, and was now empty and de- 

It was evident that, for his sister's welcome, Mr. 
Helbeck had gathered into the drawing-room, as into 
her bedroom upstairs, the best of what still remained to 
him. Chairs and tables, and straight-lined sofas, some 
of one date, some of another, collected from the garrets 
and remote corners of the old house, and covered with 
the oddest variety of faded stuffs, had been stiffly set out 
by Mrs. Denton upon an old Turkey carpet, whereof 
the rents and patches had been concealed as much as 



possible. Here at least was something of a cosmos 
something of order and of comfort. 

The hall too, and the dining-room, in spite of their 
poor new furnishings, were still human and habitable. 
But most of the rooms on which Laura and Mrs. Fountain 
had been making raid were like that first one Laura had 
visited, mere homes of lumber and desolation. Blinds 
drawn; dust-motes dancing in the stray shafts of light 
that struck across the gloom of the old walls and floors. 
Here and there some lingering fragment of fine furniture ; 
but as a rule bareness, poverty, and void nothing could 
be more piteous, or, to Mrs. Fountain's memory, more 
surprising. For some years before she left Bannisdale, 
her father had not known where to turn for a pound of 
ready money. Yet when she fled from it, the house and 
its treasures were still intact. 

The explanation of course was very simple. Alan 
Helbeck had been living upon his house, as upon any 
other capital. Or rather he had been making alms of it. 
The house stood gashed and bare that Catholic orphans 
might be put to school was that it ? Laura hardly 
listened to Augustina's plaintive babble as they crossed 
the hall. It was all about Alan, of course Alan's 
virtues, Alan's charities. As for the orphans, the girl 
hated the thought of them. Grasping little wretches ! She 
could see them all in a sanctimonious row, their eyes 
cast up, and rosaries like the one Augustina was always 
trying to hide from her in their ugly little hands. 

They turned down a long stone passage leading to 
the chapel. As they neared the chapel door there was a 
sound of voices from the hall at their back. 

' It's Alan,' said Augustina peering, ' and Father 
Bowles ! ' 

She hurried back to meet them, skirts and cap-strings 
flying. Laura stood still. 


But after a few words with his sister, Helbeck came 
up to his guest with outstretched hand. 

'I hope we have not kept you waiting for dinner. 
May I introduce Father Bowles to you ? ' 

Laura bowed with all the stiffness of which a young 
back is capable. She saw an old grey-haired priest, 
with a round face and a pair of chubby hands, which he 
constantly held crossed or clasped upon his breast. His 
long irregular mouth seemed to fold over at the corners 
above his very small and childish chin. The mouth and 
the light blue eyes wore an expression of rather mincing 
gentleness. His short figure, though bent a little with 
years, was still vigorous, and his gait quick and bustling. 1 

He addressed Miss Fountain with a lisping and rather 
obsequious politeness, asking a great many unnecessary 
questions about her journey and her arrival. 

Laura answered coldly. But when he passed to Mrs. 
Fountain, Augustina was all effusion. 

' When I think what has been granted to us since I 
was here last ! ' she said to the priest as they moved on, 
clasping her hands, and flushing. 

' The dear Bishop took such trouble about it,' he said 
in a little murmuring voice. ' It was not easy but the 
Church loves to content her children.' 

Involuntarily Laura glanced at Helbeck. 

' My sister refers to the permission which has been 
granted to us to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the 
chapel/ he said gravely. 'It is a privilege we never 
enjoyed till last year.' 

Laura made no reply. 

1 Shall I slip away ? ' she thought, looking round her. 

But at that moment Mr. Helbeck lifted the heavy 
latch of the chapel door; and her young curiosity was 
too strong for her. She followed the others. 

Mr. Helbeck held the door open for her. 


' You will perhaps care to look at the frescoes,' he said 
to her as she hurried past him. She nodded, and walked 
quickly away to the left, by herself. Then she turned 
and looked about her. 

It was the first time that she had entered a Catholic 
church, and every detail was new to her. She watched 
the other three sign themselves with holy water and drop 
low on one knee before the altar. So that was the altar. 
She stared at it with a scornful repugnance ; yet her pulse 
quickened as though what she saw excited her. What 
was that erection above it, with a veil of red silk drawn 
round it and why was that lamp burning in front of it ? 

She recalled Mr. Helbeck's words ' permission to 
reserve the Blessed Sacrament.' Then, in a flash, a 
hundred vague memories, the deposit of a hearsay know- 
ledge, enlightened her. She knew and remembered much 
less than any ordinary girl would have done. But still, 
in the main, she guessed at what was passing. That of 
course was the Sacrament, before which Mr. Helbeck 
and the others were kneeling ! for instinctively she felt 
that it was to no empty shrine the adoration of those 
silent figures was being offered. 

Fragments from Augustina's talk at Folkestone came 
back to her. Once she had overheard some half-wins? 
pered conversation between her stepmother and a Catholic 
friend, from which she had vaguely understood that the 
' Blessed Sacrament ' was kept in the Catholic churches, 
was always there, and that the faithful ' visited ' it that 
these ' visits ' were indeed specially recommended as a 
means to holiness. And she recalled how, as they came 
home from their daily walk to the beach, Mrs. Fountain 
would disappear from her, through the shadowy door of 
a Catholic church that stood in the same street as their 
lodgings how she would come home half an hour after- 
wards, shaken with fresh ardours, fresh remorse. 


But how could such a thing be allowed, be possible, 
in a private chapel in a room that was really part of a 
private house? GOD the Christ of Calvary in that 
gilt box, upon that altar ! 

The young girl's arms fell by her side in a sudden 
rigidity. A wave of the most passionate repulsion swept 
through her. What a gross, what an intolerable super- 
stition ! how was she to live with it, beside it ? The next 
instant it was as though her hand clasped her father's 
clinging to him proudly, against this alien world. Why 
should she feel lonely ? the little heretic, left standing 
there alone in her distant corner. Let her rather rejoice 
that she was her father's daughter ! 

She drew herself up, and coolly looked about her. 
The worshippers had risen ; long as the time had seemed 
to Laura, they had only been two or three minutes on 
their knees ; and she could see that Augustina was 
talking eagerly to her brother, pointing now to the walls, 
now to the altar. 

It seemed as though Augustina were no less astonished 
than her stepdaughter by the magnificence of the chapel. 
Was it all new, the frescoes, the altar with its marble and its 
gold, the white figure of the Virgin, which gleamed above 
the smaU side-altar to the left ? It had the air of new- 
ness and of costliness an air which struck the eye all 
the more sharply because of the contrast between it and 
the penury, the starvation of the great house that held 
the chapel in its breast. 

But while Laura was still wondering at the general 
impression of rich beauty, at the Lenten purple of the 
altar, at the candelabra, and the perfume, certain figures 
and colours on the wall close to her seized her, thrusting 
the rest aside. On either side of the altar the walls to 
right and left, from the entrance up to the sanctuary, were 
covered with what appeared to be recent painting 


painting, indeed, that was still in the act. On either hand, 
long rows of life-sized saints, men and women, turned 
their adoring faces towards the Christ looking down upon 
them from a crucifix above the tabernacle. On the north 
wall, about half the row was unfinished ; faces, haloes, 
drapery, strongly outlined in red, still waited for the 
completing hand of the artist. The rest glowed and 
burned with colour colour the most singular, the most 
daring. The carnations and rose colours, the golds 
and purples, the blues and lilacs and greens in the 
whole concert of tone, in spite of its general simplicity of 
surface, there was something at once ravishing and 
troubling, something that spoke as it were from passion 
to passion. 

Laura's nature felt the thrill of it at once, just as she 
had felt the thrill of the sunshine lighting up the tapestry 
of her room. 

' Why isn't it crude and hideous ? ' she asked herself, 
in a marvel. ' But it isn't. One never saw such blues 
except in the sea or such greens and rose ! And the 
angels between ! and the flowers under their feet ! -- 
Heavens ! how lovely ! Who did it ? ' 

'Do you admire the frescoes?" said a little voice 
behind her. ; 

She turned hastily, and saw Father Bowles, smiling 
upon her, his plump white hands clasped in front of him 
as usual. It was an attitude which seemed to make the 
simplest words sound intimate and possessive. Laura 
shrank from it in quick annoyance. 

' They are very strange, and and startling,' she said 
stiffly, moving as far away from the grey-haired priest as 
possible. ' Who painted them ? ' 

' Mr. Helbeck first designed them. But they were 
carried out for a time by a youth of great genius.' Father 
Bowles dwelt softly upon the word ' ge-mus,' as though 


he loved it. ' He was once a lad from these parts, but 
has now become a Jesuit. So the work was stopped.' 

' What a pity ! ' said Laura impetuously. ' He ought 
to have been a painter.' 

The priest smiled, and made her an odd little bow. 
Then, without saying anything more about the artist, he 
chattered on about the frescoes and the chapel, as though 
he had beside him the most sympathetic of listeners. 
Nothing that he said was the least interesting or striking ; 
and Laura, in a passion of silent dislike, kept up a steady 
movement towards the door all the time. 

In the passage outside Mrs. Fountain was lingering 
alone. And when Laura appeared she caught hold of her 
stepdaughter and detained her while the priest passed on. 
Laura looked at her in surprise, and Mrs. Fountain, in 
much agitation, whispered in the girl's ear : 

' Oh Laura do remember, dear ! don't ask Alan about 
those pictures those frescoes by young Williams. I can 
tell you some time and you might say something to 
hurt him poor Alan ! ' 

Laura drew herself away. 

' Why should I say anything to hurt him ? What's 
the mystery ? ' 

' I can't tell you now ' Mrs. Fountain looked 
anxiously towards the hall. ' People have been so hard 
on Alan so unkind about it ! It's been a regular per- 
secution. And you wouldn't understand wouldn't 
sympathise ' 

' I really don't care to know about it, Augustina ! And 
I'm so hungry famished ! Look, there's Mr. Helbeck 
signing to us. Joy ! that's dinner.' 

Laura expected the midday meal with some curiosity. 
But she saw no signs of austerity. Mr. Helbeck pressed 
the roast chicken on Father Bowles, took pains that he 

should enjoy a better bottle of wine than usual, and as to 
himself ate and drank very moderately indeed, but like 
anybody else, Laura could only imagine that it was not 
seemly to outdo your priest. 

The meal of course was served in the simplest way, 
and all the waiting was done by Mr. Helbeck, who would 
allow nobody to help him in the task. 

The conversation dragged. Laura and her host talked 
a little about the country and the weather. Father 
Bowles and Augustina tried to pick up the dropped 
threads of thirteen years ; and Mrs. Fountain was alter- 
nately eager for Whinthorpe gossip, or reduced to an 
abrupt unhappy silence by some memory of the past. 

Suddenly Father Bowles got up from his chair, ran 
across the room to the window with his napkin in his 
hand, and pounced eagerly upon a fly that was buzzing 
on the pane. Then he carefully opened the window, and 
flicked the dead thing off the sill. 

' I beg your pardon,' he said humbly to Mrs. Fountain 
as he returned to his seat. ' It was a nasty fly. I can't 
abide 'em. I always think of Beelzebub who was the 
prince of the flies.' 

Laura's mouth twitched with laughter. She promised 

. herself to make a study of Father Bowles. And, indeed, 

/ he was a character in his own small way. He was a 

priest of an old-fashioned type, with no pretensions to 

knowledge or to manners. Wherever he went he was a 

meek and accommodating guest, for his recollection went 

back to days when a priest coming to a private house to 

say mass would as likely as not have his meals in the 

pantry. And he was naturally of a gentle and yielding 

temper though rather sly. 

But he had several tricks as curious as they were 
persistent. Not even the presence of his bishop could 
make him spare a bluebottle. And he had, on the other 


hand, a peculiar passion for the smell of wax. He would 
blow out a candle on the altar before the end of mass 
that he might enjoy the smell of it. He disliked Jesuits, 
and religious generally, if the truth were known ; excepting 
only the Orphanage nuns, who knew his weaknesses and 
were kind to them. He had no love for modern innova- 
tions, or modern devotions ; there was a hidden Gallican 
strain in him; and he firmly believed that in the old 
days before Catholic emancipation, and before the Oxford 
movement, the Church made more converts than she did 

Towards the end of the lunch Laura inquired of Mr. 
Helbeck whether any conveyance was to be got in the 

1 1 wish to go to Browhead Farm this afternoon,' she 
said, rather shortly. 

' Certainly,' said Helbeck. ' Certainly. I will see that 
something is found for you.' 

But his voice had no cordiality, and Laura at once 
thought him ungracious. 

' Oh, pray don't give yourself any trouble,' she said 
flushing, ' I can walk to the village.' 

Helbeck paused. 

'If you could wait till to-morrow,' he said after a 
moment, ' I could promise you the pony. Unfortunately 
he is busy this afternoon.' 

' Oh do wait, Laura ! ' cried Augustina. ' There is so 
much unpacking to do.' 

' Very well,' said the girl unwillingly. 

As she turned away from him Helbeck's look followed 
her. She was in a dress of black serge, which followed 
the delicate girlish frame with perfect simplicity, and 
was relieved at the neck and wrists with the plainest of 
white collars and cuffs. But there was something so 


brilliant in the hair, so fawnlike in the carriage of the 
head, that she seemed to Helbeck to be all elegance; 
had he been asked to describe her, he would have said 
she was in grande toilette. Little as he spoke to her, he 
found himself perpetually conscious of her. Her evident, 
childishly evident dislike of her new surroundings half 
amused, half embarrassed him. He did not know what 
topic to start with her ; soon, perhaps, he might have a 
difficulty in keeping the peace ! It was all very absurd. 

After luncheon they gathered in the hall for a while, 
Father Bowles talking eagerly with Helbeck and Augus- 
tina about ' orphans ' and ' new buildings.' Laura stood 
apart awhile then went for her hat. 

When she reappeared, in walking dress with Fricka 
at her heels Helbeck opened the heavy outer door for 

' May I have Bruno ? ' she said. 

Helbeck turned and whistled. 

' You are not afraid ? ' he said, smiling, and looking at 

' Oh dear no ! I spent an hour this morning intro- 
ducing them.' 

At that moment Bruno came bounding up. He 
looked from his master, to Laura hi her hat, and 
seemed to hesitate. Then, as she descended the steps, 
he sprang after her. Laura began to run ; the two dogs 
leapt about her ; her light voice, checking or caressing, 
came back to Helbeck on the spring wind. He watched 
her and her companions so long as they were in sight 
the golden hair among the trees, the dancing steps 
of the girl, the answering frolic of the dogs. 

Then he turned back to his sister, his grave mouth 

' How thankful she is to get rid of us ! ' 
^ ., He laughed out. The priest laughed too, more softly. 


1 It was the first time, I presume, that Miss Fountain 
had ever been within a Catholic church ? ' he said to 

Augustina flushed. 

4 Of course it is the first time. Oh ! Alan, you can't 
think how strange it is to her.' 

She looked rather piteously at her brother. 

4 So I perceive,' he said. ' You told me something, but 
I had not realised ' 

4 You see, Alan ' cried Augustina, watching 'her 
brother's face^-' it was with the greatest difficulty that 
her mother got Stephen to consent even to her being 
baptised. He opposed it for a long time.' 

Father Bowles murmured something under his breath. 

Helbeck paused for a moment, then said 

4 What was her mother like? ' 

4 Every one at Cambridge used to say she was " a sweet 
woman " but but Stephen, well, you know, Alan, 
Stephen always had his way ! I always wonder she 
managed to persuade him about the baptism.' 

She coloured still more deeply as she spoke, and her 
nervous infirmity became more pronounced. Alas ! it 
was not only with the first wife that Stephen had had his 
way! Her own marriage had begun to seem to her a 
mere sinful connection. Poor soul poor Augustina ! 

Her brother must have divined something of what was 
passing in her mind, for he looked down upon her with & 
peculiar gentleness. 

4 People are perhaps more ready to talk of that 
responsibility than to take it,' he said kindly. 4 JBut, 
Augustina ' his voice changed ' how pretty she is ! 
You hardly prepared me ' 

Father Bowles modestly cast down his eyes. These 
were not questions that concerned him. But Helbeck 
went on, speaking with decision, and looking at his sister 


1 1 confess her great attractiveness makes me a little 
anxious about the connection with the Masons. Have 
you ever seen any of them, Augustina ? ' 

No Augustina had seen none of them. She believed 
Stephen had particularly disliked the mother, the widow 
of his cousin, who now owned the farm jointly with her son. 

' Well, no ' said Helbeck, dryly, ' I don't suppose he 
and she would have had much in common.' 

' Isn't she a dreadful Protestant Alan ? ' 

' Oh, she's just a specimen of the ordinary English 
Bible-worship run mad,' he said, carelessly. ' She is a 
strange woman, very well known about here. And there's 
a foolish parson, living near them, up in the hills, who 
makes her worse. But it's the son I'm thinking of.' 

' Why, Alan isn't he respectable ? ' 

' Not particularly. He's a splendid athletic fellow 
doing his best to make himself a blackguard, I'm afraid. 
I've come across him once or twice, as it happens. He's 
not a desirable cousin for Miss Fountain that I can 
vouch for ! And unluckily ' he smiled ' Miss Fountain 
won't hear any good of this house at Browhead Farm.' 

Even Augustina drew herself up proudly. 

' My dear Alan, what does it matter what that sort of 
people think ? ' 

He shook his head. 

'It's a queer business. They were mixed up with 
young Williams.' 

Augustina started. 

' Mrs. Mason was a great friend of his mother, who 
died. They hate me like poison. However ' 

The priest interposed. 

'Mrs. Mason is a very violent, a most unseemly 
woman,' he said, in his mincing voice. ' And the father 
the old man who is now dead, was concerned in the 
rioting, near the bridge ' 


' When Alan was struck ? Mrs. Denton told me ! How 
abominable I ' 

Augustina raised her hands in mingled reprobation 
and distress. 

Helbeck looked annoyed. 

' That doesn't matter one brass farthing,' he said, in 
some haste. ' Father Bowles was much worse treated 
than I on that occasion. But you see the whole thing is 
unlucky it makes it difficult to give Miss Fountain the 
hints one would like to give her.' 

He threw himself down beside his sister, talking to her 
in low tones. Father Bowles took up the local paper. 

Presently Augustina broke out with another wringing 
of the hands. 

' Don't put it on me, my dear Alan ! I tell you 
Laura has always done exactly what she liked since she 
was a baby.' 

Mr. Helbeck rose. His face and air already expressed 
a certain haughtiness ; and at his sister's words there was 
a very definite tightening of the shoulders. 

' I do not intend to have Hubert Mason hanging about 
the house,' he said quietly, as he thrust his hands into 
his pockets. 

'Of course not! but she wouldn't expect it,' cried 
Augustina in dismay. ' It's the keeping her away from 
them, that's the difficulty. She thinks so much of her 
cousins, Alan. They're her father's only relations. I 
know she'll want to be with them half her time ! ' 

' For love of them or dislike of us ? Oh ! I dare say 
it will be all right,' he added, abruptly. ' Father Bowles, 
shall I drive you halfway? The pony will be round 



IT was a Sunday morning bright and windy. Miss 
Fountain was driving a shabby pony through the park of 
Bannisdale driving with a haste and glee that sent the 
little cart spinning down the road. 

Six hours she calculated till she need see Bannisdale 
again. Her cousins would ask her to dinner and to tea. 
Augustina and Mr. Helbeck might have all their Sunday 
antics to themselves. There were several priests coming 
to luncheon and a function in the chapel that afternoon. 
Laura flicked the pony sharply as she thought of it. 
Seven miles between her and it ? Joy ! 

Nevertheless, she did not get rid of the old house and 
its suggestions quite as easily as she wished. The park 
and the river had many windings. Again and again the 
grey gabled mass thrust itself upon her attention, recalling 
each time, against her will, the face of its owner. 

A high brow hollows in the temples, deep hollows 
in the cheeks pale blue eyes a short and pointed beard, 
greyish-black like the hair the close whiskers black too 
against the skin a general impression of pallor, dark 
lines, strong shadows, melancholy force 

She burst out laughing. . 

A pose! nothing in the world but a pose. There 
was a wretched picture of Charles I. in the dining-room 
a daub ' after ' some famous thing, she supposed all 
eyes and hair, long face, and lace collar. Mr. Helbeck 


was ' made up ' to that she was sure of it. He had 
found out the likeness, and improved upon it. Oh ! if 
one could only present him with the collar and blue 
ribbon complete ! 

' Cut his head off, and have done with him ! ' she said 
aloud, whipping up the pony, and laughing at her own 

Who could live in such a house such an atmosphere ? 

As she drove along, her mind was all in a protesting 
whirl. On her return from her walk with the dogs the 
day before, she had found a service going on in the 
chapel, Father Bowles officiating, and some figures in 
black gowns and white- winged coifs assisting. She had 
fled to her own room, but when she came down again, the 
black-garbed ' sisters ' were still there, and she had been 
introduced to them. Ugh ! what manners ! Must one 
always, if one was a Catholic, make that cloying, hypo- 
critical impression ? ' Three of them kissed me,' she 
reminded herself, in a quiver of wrath. 

They were Sisters from the orphanage apparently, or 
one of the orphanages, and there had been endless talk 
of new buildings and money, while she, Laura, sat dumb 
in her corner looking at old photographs of the house. 
Helbeck, indeed, had not talked much. While the black 
women were chattering with Augustina and Father 
Bowles, he had stood, mostly silent, under the picture of 
his great-grandmother, only breaking through his reverie 
from time to time to ask or answer a question. Was he 
pondering the sale of the great-grandmother, or did he 
simply know that his silence and aloofness were 
picturesque, that they compelled other people's attention, 
and made him the centre of things more effectively than 
more ordinary manners could have done ? In recalling 
him the girl had an impatient sense of something com- 
manding; of something, moreover, that held herself 


under observation. 'One thinks him shy at first, or 
awkward nothing of the sort ! He is as proud as Lucifer. 
Very soon one sees that he is just looking out for his 
own way in everything. 

' And as for temper ! ' 

After the Sisters departed, a young architect had 
appeared at supper. A point of difference had arisen 
between him and Mr. Helbeck. He was to be employed, 
it appeared, in the enlargement of this blessed orphanage. 
Mr. Helbeck, no doubt with a view to his pocket to do 
him justice, there seemed to be no other pocket concerned 
than his was of opinion that certain existing buildings 
could be made use of in the new scheme. The architect 
a nervous young fellow, with awkward manners, and 
the ambitions of an artist thought not, and held his own, 
insistently. The discussion grew vehement. Suddenly 
Helbeck lost his temper. 

' Mr. Munsey ! I must ask you to give more weight, if 
you please, to my wishes in this matter ! They may be 
right or wrong but it would save time, perhaps, if we 
assumed that they would prevail.' 

The note of anger in the voice made every one look 
up. The Squire stood erect a moment ; crumpled in his 
hand a half-sheet of paper on which young Munsey had 
been making some calculations, and flung it into the fire. 
Augustina sat cowering. The young man himself turned 
white, bowed, and said nothing. "While Father Bowles, 
of course, like the old tabby that he was, had at once 
begun to purr conciliation. 

' Would I have stood meek and mum if I'd been the 
young man ! ' thought Laura. ' Would I ! Oh ! if I'd had 
the chance ! And he should not have made up so easily 

For she remembered, also, how after Father Bowles 
was gone, she had come in from the garden to find Mr. 


Helbeck and the architect pacing the long hall together, 
on what seemed to be the friendliest of terms. For nearly 
an hour, while she and Augustina sat reading over the fire, 
the colloquy went on. 

Helbeck's tones then were of the gentlest ; the young 
man too spoke low and eagerly, pressing his plans. And 
once when Laura looked up from her book, she had seen 
Helbeck's arm resting for a moment on the young fellow's 
shoulder. Oh ! no doubt Mr. Helbeck could make himself 
agreeable when he chose and struggling architects must 
put up with the tempers of their employers. 

All the more did Miss Fountain like to think that the 
Squire could compel no court from her. 

She recalled that when Mr. Munsey had said good- 
night, and they three were alone in the firelit hall, 
Helbeck had come to stand beside her. He had looked 
down upon her with an air which was either kindness or 
weariness; he had been willing even, she thought, 
anxious to talk with her. But she did not mean to be 
first trampled on, then patronised, like the young man. 
So Mr. Helbeck had hardly begun with that occasional 
timidity which sat so oddly on his dark and strong 
physique to speak to her of the two Sisters of Charity 
who had been his guests in the afternoon, when she 
abruptly discovered it was time to say good-night. She 
winced a little as she remembered the sudden stiffening 
of his look, the careless touch of his hand. 

The day was keen and clear. A nipping wind blew 
beneath the bright sun, and the opening buds had a 
parched and hindered look. But to Laura the air was 
wine, and the country all delight. She was mounting 
the flank of a hill towards a straggling village. Straight 
along the face of the hill lay her road, past the villages 
and woods that clothed the hill slope, till some one should 



show her the gate beyond which lay the rough ascent to 
Browhead Farm. 

Above her, now, to her right, rose a craggy fell with 
great screes plunging sheer down into the woods that 
sheltered the village ; below, in the valley-plain, stretched 
the purples and greens of the moss ; the rivers shone in 
the sun as they came speeding from the mountains to the 
sea ; and in the far distance the heights of Lakeland 
made one pageant with the sun and the clouds peak 
after peak thrown blue against the white, cloud after 
cloud breaking to show the dappled hills below, in such 
a glory of silver and of purple, such a freshness of 
atmosphere and light, that mere looking soon became the 
most thrilling, the most palpable of joys. Laura's spirits 
began to sing and soar, with the larks and the blackcaps ! 

Then, when the village was gone, came a high stretch 
of road, looking down upon the moss and all its bounding 
fells, which ran out upon its purple face like capes upon 
a sea. And these nearer fields what were these thick 
white specks upon the new-made furrows ? Up rose the 
gulls for answer ; and the girl felt the sea-breath from 
their dazzling wings, and turned behind her to look for 
that pale opening in the south-west through which the 
rivers passed. 

And beyond the fields a wood such a wood as made 
Laura's south-country eyes stand wide with wonder ! Out 
she jumped, tied the pony's rein to a gate beside the road, 
and ran into the hazel brushwood with little cries of 
pleasure. A Westmoreland wood in daffodil time it was 
nothing more and nothing less. But to this child with 
the young passion in her blood, it was a dream, an 
ecstasy. The golden flowers, the slim stalks, rose from a 
mist of greenish-blue, made by their speary leaf amid the 
encircling browns and purples, the intricate stem and 
branch-work of the still winter-bound hazels. Never were 


daffodils in such a wealth before ! They were flung on 
the fell-side through a score of acres, hi sheets and 
tapestries of gold, such an audacious, unreckoned plenty 
as went strangely with the frugal air and temper of the 
northern country, with the bare walled fields, the rugged- 
ness of the crags above, and the melancholy of the treeless 
marsh below. And within this common lavishness, all pos- 
sible delicacy, all possible perfection of the separate bloom 
and tuft each foot of ground had its own glory. For below 
the daffodils there was a carpet of dark violets, so dim 
and close that it was then: scent first bewrayed them ; and 
as Laura lay gathering with her face among the flowers, 
she could see behind their gold, and between the hazel 
stems, the light-filled greys and azures of the moun- 
tain distance. Each detail in the happy whole struck on 
the girl's eager sense and made there a poem of northern 
spring spring as the fell-country sees it, pure, cold, 
expectant, with flashes of a blossoming beauty amid the 
rocks and pastures, unmatched for daintiness and joy. 

Presently Laura found herself sitting half crying ! 
on a mossy tuft, looking along the wood to the distance. 
What was it in this exquisite country that seized upon her 
so that spoke to her in this intimate, this appealing voice ? 

Why, she was of it she belonged to it she felt it in 
her veins ! Old inherited things leapt within her or it 
pleased her to think so. It was as though she stretched 
out her arms to the mountains and fields, crying to them, 
1 1 am not a stranger draw me to you my life sprang 
from yours ! ' A host of burning and tender thoughts ran 
through her. Their first effect was to remind her of the 
farm and of her cousins ; and she sprang up, and went 
back to the cart. 

On they rattled again, downhill through the wood, 
and up on the further side still always on the edge of 
the moss. She loved the villages, and their medley of 


grey houses wedged among the rocks ; she loved the 
stone farms with their wide porches, and the white 
splashes on their grey fronts ; she loved the tufts of fern 
in the wall crannies, the limestone ribs and bonework 
of the land breaking everywhere through the pastures, 
the incomparable purples of the woods, and the first 
brave leafing of the larches and the sycamores. Never 
had she so given her heart to any new world; and 
through her delight flashed the sorest, tenderest thoughts 
of her father. ' Oh ! papa oh, papa ! ' she said to her- 
self again and again in a little moan. Every day perhaps 
he had walked this road as a child, and she could still see 
herself as a child, in a very dim vision, trotting beside 
him down the Browhead Eoad. She turned at last into 
the fell-gate to which a passing boy directed her, with a 
long breath that was almost a sob. 

She had given them no notice; but surely, surely 
they would be glad to see her ! 

They ? She tried to split up the notion, to imagine 
the three people she was going to see. Cousin Elizabeth 
the mother ? Ah ! she knew her, for they had never 
liked Cousin Elizabeth. She herself could dimly re- 
member a hard face an obstinate voice raised in dis- 
cussion with her father. Yet it was Cousin Elizabeth 
who was the Fountain born, who had carried the little 
family property as her dowry to her husband James 
Mason. For the grandfather had been free to leave it as 
he chose, and on the death of his eldest son who had 
settled at the farm after his marriage, and taken the 
heavy work of it off his father's shoulders the old man 
had passionately preferred to leave it to the strong, 
capable granddaughter, who was already provided with a 
lover, who understood the land, moreover, and could earn 
and ' addle ' as he did rather than to his bookish milk- 


sop of a second son, so richly provided for already, in his 
father's contemptuous opinion, by the small Government 
post at Newcastle. 

' Let us always thank God, Laura, that my grand- 
father was a brute to yours ! ' Stephen Fountain would 
say to his girl on the rare occasions when he could be 
induced to speak of his family at all. ' But for that I 
might be a hedger and ditcher to this day.' 

Well, but Cousin Elizabeth's children ? Laura herself 
had some vague remembrance of them. As the pony 
climbed the steep lane she shut her eyes and tried hard 
to recall them. The fair-haired boy rather fat and 
masterful who had taken her to find the eggs of a 
truant hen in a hedge behind the house and had pushed 
her into a puddle on the way home because she had 
broken one ? Then the girl, the older girl Polly, who had 
cleaned her shoes for her, and lent her a pinafore ? No ! 
Laura opened her eyes again it was no good straining 
to remember. Too many years had rolled between that 
early visit and her present self years during which there 
had been no communication of any sort between Stephen 
Fountain and his cousins. 

Why had Augustina been so trying and tiresome about 
the Masons? Instead of flying to her cousins on the 
earliest possible opportunity, here was a whole fortnight 
gone since her arrival, and it was not till this Sunday 
morning that Laura had been able to achieve her visit. 
Augustina had been constantly ailing or fretful ; either 
unwilling to be left alone, or possessed by absurd desires 
for useless trifles, only to be satisfied by Laura's going to 
shop in Whinthorpe. And such melancholy looks when- 
ever the Masons were mentioned coupled with so 
formal a silence on Mr. Helbeck's part ! What did it all 
mean? No doubt her relations were vulgar, low-born 
folk ! but she did not ask Mr. Helbeck or her stepmother 


to entertain them. At last there had been a passage of 
arms between her and her stepmother. Perhaps Mr. 
Helbeck had overheard it, for immediately afterwards he 
had emerged from his study into the hall, where she and 
Augustina were sitting. 

' Miss Fountain may I ask do you wish to be sent 
into Whinthorpe on Sunday morning ? ' 

She had fronted him at once. 

' No, thank you, Mr. Helbeck. I don't go to church I 
never did with papa.' 

Had she been defiant ? He surely had been stiff. 

1 Then perhaps you would like the pony for your 
visit ? He is quite at your service for the day. Would 
that suit you ? ' 

' Perfectly.' 

So here she was at last ! climbing up and up into 
the heart of the fells. The cloud-pageant round the 
high mountains, the valley with its flashing streams, its 
.distant sands, and widening sea she had risen as it seemed 
above them all; they lay beneath her in a map-like unity. 
She could have laughed and sung out of sheer physical 
joy in the dancing air in the play of the cloud gleams 
and shadows as they swept across her, chased by the 
.wind. All about her the little mountain sheep were 
feeding in the craggy ' intaks ' or along the edges of the 
tiny tumbling streams ; and at intervals amid the reds 
and yellows of the still wintry grass rose great wind- 
beaten hollies, sharp and black against the blue distance, 
marching beside her, like scattered soldiers, up the 

Not a house to be seen, save on the far slopes of 
distant hills not a sound, but the chink of the stone- 
chat, or the fall of lonely water. 
. Soon the road, after its long ascent, began to dip ; a 


few trees appeared in a hollow, then a gate and some grey 

Laura jumped from the cart. Beyond the gate, the 
road turned downward a little, and a great block of 
barns shut the farmhouse from view till she was actually 
upon it. 

But there it was at last the grey roughly built house, 
that she still vaguely remembered, with the whitewashed 
porch, the stables and cowsheds opposite, the little garden 
to the side, the steep fell behind. 

She stood with her hand on the pony, looking at the 
house in some perplexity. Not a soul apparently had 
heard her coming. Nothing moved in the farmhouse 
or outside it. Was everybody at church ? But it was 
nearly one o'clock. 

The door under the deep porch had no knocker, and 
she looked in vain for a bell. All she could do was to 
rap sharply with the handle of her whip. 

No answer. She rapped again louder and louder. 
At last in the intervals of knocking, she became conscious 
of a sound within something deep and continuous, like 
the buzzing of a gigantic bee. 

She put her ear to the door, listening. Then all her 
face dissolved in laughter. She raised her arm and 
brought the whip-handle down noisily on the old blistered 
door, so that it shook again. 


There was a sudden sound of chairs overturned, or 
dragged along a flagged floor. Then staggering steps 
and the door was opened. 

' I say what's all this what are you making such a 
damned noise for ? ' 

Inside stood a stalwart young man, still half asleep, 
and drawing his hand irritably across his blinking eyes. 

1 How do you do, Mr. Mason ? ' 


The young man drew himself together with a start. 
Suddenly he perceived that the young girl standing in the 
shade of the porch was not his sister, but a stranger. He 
looked at her with astonishment, at the elegance of her 
dress, and the neatness of her small gloved hand. 

' I beg your pardon, Miss, I'm sure ! Did you want 
anything ? ' 

The visitor laughed. ' Yes, I want a good deal ! I 
came up to see my cousins you're my cousin though 
of course you don't remember me. I thought perhaps 
you'd ask me to dinner.' 

The young man's yawns ceased. He stared with all 
his eyes, instinctively putting his hair and collar straight. 

' Well, I'm afraid I don't know who you are, Miss/ 
he said at last, putting out his hand in perplexity to 
meet hers. ' Will you walk in ? ' 

' Not before you know who I am ! ' said Laura, still 
laughing ' I'm Laura Fountain. Now do you know ? ' 

' What Stephen Fountain's daughter as married 
Miss Helbeck?' said the young man in wonder. His 
face which had been at first vague and heavy with sleep, 
began to recover its natural expression. 

Laura surveyed him. He had a square, full chin and 
an upper lip slightly underhung. His straight fair hair 
straggled loose over his brow. He carried his head and 
shoulders well, and was altogether a finely built, rather 
magnificent young fellow, marred by a general expression 
that was half clumsy, half insolent. 

' That's it,' she said, in answer to his question 
'I'm staying at Bannisdale, and I came up to see you 
all. Where's Cousin Elizabeth ? ' 

' Mother, do you mean ? Oh ! she's at church.' 

' Why aren't you there, too ? ' 

He opened his blue eyes, taken aback by the cool 
clearness of her voice. 


' Well, I can't abide the parson if you want to know. 
Shall I put up your pony ? ' 

' But perhaps you've not had your sleep out ? ' said 
Laura, politely interrogative. 

He reddened, and came forward with a slow and rather 
shambling gait. 

' I don't know what else there is to do up here of a 
Sunday morning,' he said, with a boyish sulkiness, as he 
began to lead the pony towards the stables opposite. 
' Besides, I was up half the night seeing to one of the 

' You don't seem to have many neighbours,' said 
Laura, as she walked beside him. 

' There's rooks and crows ' (which he pronounced 
broadly ' craws ') ' not much else, I can tell you. 
Shall I take the pony out ? ' 

' Please. I'm afraid you'll have to put up with me 
for hours ! ' 

She looked at him merrily, and he returned the 
scrutiny. She wore the same thin black dress in which 
Helbeck had admired her the day before, and above it a 
cloth jacket and cap, trimmed with brown fur. Mason 
was dazzled a moment by the milky whiteness of the 
cheek above the fur, by the brightness of the eyes and 
hair; then was seized with fresh shyness, and became 
extremely busy with the pony. 

1 Mother '11 be back in about an hour/ he said gruffly. 

1 Goodness ! what '11 you do with me till then ? ' 

They both laughed, he with an embarrassment that 
annoyed him. He was not at all accustomed to find him- 
self at a disadvantage with a good-looking girl. 

' There's a good fire in the house, any way,' he said 
'you'll want to warm yourself, I should think, after 
driving up here.' 

1 Oh ! I'm not cold I say, what jolly horses ! ' 


For Mason had thrown open the large worm-eaten 
door of the stables, and inside could be seen the heads 
and backs of two cart-horses, huge, majestic creatures, 
who were peering over the doors of their stalls, as 
though they had been listening to the conversation. 

Their owner glanced at them indifferently. 

' Aye, they're not bad. We bred 'em three years ago, 
and they've taken more'n one prize already. I dare say 
old Daffady, now, as looks after them, would be sorry to 
part with them.' 

' I dare say he would. But why should he part with 
them ? ' 

The young man hesitated. He was shaking down a 
load of hay for the pony, and Laura was leaning against 
the door of the stall watching his performance. 

' Well, I reckon we shan't be farmin here all our 
lives,' he said at last with some abruptness. 

' Don't you like it then ? ' 

' I'd get quit on it to-morrow if I could ! ' 

His quick reply had an emphasis that astonished 

' And your mother ? ' 

' Oh ! of course it's mother keeps me at it,' he said, 
relapsing into the same accent of a sulky child that he 
had used once before. 

Then he led his new cousin back to the farmhouse. 
By this time he was beginning to find his tongue and 
use his eyes. Laura was conscious that she was being 
closely observed, and that by a man who was by no 
means indifferent to women. She said to herself that 
she would try to keep him shy. 

As they entered the farmhouse kitchen Mason 
hastened to pick up the chairs he had overturned in his 
sudden waking. 

' I say, mother would be mad if she knew you'd come 


into this scrow ! ' he said with vexation, kicking aside 
some sporting papers that were littered over the floors, 
and bringing forward a carved oak chair with a cushion 
to place it before the fire for her acceptance. 

' Scrow ? What's that ? ' said Laura, lifting her eye- 
brows. ' Oh, please don't tidy any more. I really think 
you make it worse. Besides, it's all right. What a dear 
old kitchen ! ' 

She had seated herself in the cushioned chair, and 
was warming a slender foot at the fire. Mason wished 
she would take off her hat it hid her hair. But he could 
not flatter himself that she was in the least occupied with 
what he wished. Her attention was all given to her 
surroundings to the old raftered room, with its glowing 
fire and deepset windows. 

Bright as the April sun was outside, it hardly pene- 
trated here. Through the mellow dusk, as through the 
varnish of an old picture, one saw the different objects in 
a golden light and shade the brass warming-pan hang- 
ing beside the tall eight-day clock the table in front of 
the long window-seat, covered with its checked red 
cloth the carved door of a cupboard in the wall bearing 
the date 1679 the miscellaneous store of things packed 
away under the black rafters, dried herbs and tools, 
bundles of list and twine, the spindles of old spinning 
wheels, cattle-medicines and the like the heavy oaken 
chairs the settle beside the fire, with its hard cushions 
and scrolled back. It was a room for winter, fashioned 
by the needs of winter. By the help of that great peat 
fire, built up year by year from the spoils of the moss 
a thousand feet below, generations of human beings 
had fought with snow and storm, had maintained their 
little polity there on the heights, self-centred, self-supplied. 
Across the yard, commanded by the window of the farm- 
kitchen, lay the rude byres where the cattle were prisoned 


from October to April. The cattle made the wealth of 
the farm, and there must be many weeks when the 
animals and their masters were shut in together from the 
world outside by wastes of snow. 

Laura shut her eyes an instant, imagining the goings 
to and fro the rising on whiter dawns to feed the 
stock the shepherd on the fell side, wrestling with sleet 
and tempest the returns at night to food and fire. Her 
young fancy, already played on by the breath of the 
mountains, warmed to the farmhouse and its primitive 
life. Here surely was something more human more 
poetic even than the tattered splendour of Bamiisdale. 

She opened her eyes wide again, as though in 
defiance and saw Hubert Mason looking at her. 

Instinctively she sat up straight, and drew her foot 
primly under the shelter of her dress. 

' I was thinking of what it must be in winter,' she 
said hurriedly. ' I know I should like it.' 

' What, this place ? ' He gave a rough laugh. ' I 
don't see what for, then. It's bad enough in summer. 
In winter it's fit to make you cut your throat. I say, 
where are you staying ? ' 

' Why, at Bannisdale ! ' said Laura in surprise. ' You 
knew my stepmother was still living, didn't you ? ' 

' Well, I didn't think aught about it,' he said falling 
into candour, because the beauty of her grey eyes, now 
that they were fixed fair and full upon him, startled him 
out of his presence of mind. 

'I wrote to you to Cousin Elizabeth when my 
father died,' she said simply, rather proudly, and the eyes 
were removed from him. 

'Aye of course you did,' he said in haste. ' But 
mother's never yan to talk aboot letters. And you haven't 
dropped us a line since, have you?' he added, almost 
with timiditv. 


'No. I thought I'd surprise you. We've been a 
fortnight at Bannisdale.' 

His face flushed and darkened. 

' Then you've been a fortnight in a queer place ! ' he 
said with a sudden, almost a violent change of tone. ' I 
wonder you can bide so long under that man's roof ! ' 

She stared. 

' Do you mean because he disliked my father ? ' 

' Oh, I don't know nowt about that ! ' He paused. 
His young face was crimson, his eyes angry and sinister. 
' He's a snake is Helbeck ! ' he said slowly, striking his 
hands together as they hung over his knees. 

Laura recoiled instinctively straightening herself. 

1 Mr. Helbeck is quite kind to me,' she said sharply. 
' I don't know why you speak of him like that. I'm stay- 
ing there till my stepmother gets strong.' 

He stared at her, still red and obstinate. 

' Helbeck an his house together stick in folk's gizzards 
aboot here,' he said. ' Yo'll soon find that oot. And 
good reason too. Did you ever hear of Teddy Williams ? ' 

' Williams ? ' she said, frowning. ' Was that the man 
that painted the chapel ? ' 

Mason laughed and slapped his knee. 

' Man, indeed ? He was just a lad down at Marsland 
School. I was there myself, you understand, the year 
after him. He was an awful clever lad beat every one at 
books an he could draw anything. You couldn't mak 
much oot of his drawins, I daur say they were queer sorts 
o' things. I never could make head or tail on 'em myself. 
But old Jackson, our master, thowt a lot of 'em, and so 
did the passon down at Marsland. An his father an 
mother well, they thowt he was going to make all their for- 
tunes for 'em. There was a scholarship or soomthin o' 
that sort an he was to get it an go to college, an make 
'em all rich. They were just common wheelwrights, you 


understand down on t' Whinthorpe road. But my word, 
Mr. Helbeck spoilt their game for 'em ! ' 

He lifted another sod of turf from the basket and flung 
it on the fire. The animus of his tone and manner struck 
Laura oddly. But she was at least as curious to hear as 
he was anxious to tell. She drew her chair a little nearer 
to him. 

' What did Mr. Helbeck do ? ' 

Mason laughed. 

' Well, he just made a Papist of Teddy took him an 
done him brown. He got hold on him in the park one 
evening Teddy was drawing a picture of the bridge, you 
understand 'ticed him up to his place soomhow an 
Teddy was set to a job of paintin up at the chapel before you 
could say Jack Robinson. An in six months they'd settled 
it between 'em. Teddy wouldn't go to school no more. 
And one night he and his father had words the owd man 
gie'd him a thrashing and Teddy just cut and run. Next 
thing they heard he was at a Papist school, somewhere 
over Lancashire way, an he sent word to his mother she 
was dyin then, you understan and she's dead since that 
he'd gone to be a priest, an if they didn't like it, they might 
just do the other thing ! ' 

' And the mother died ? ' said Laura. 

' Aye double quick ! My mother went down to nurse 
her. An they sent Teddy back, just too late to see her. 
He come in two-three hours after they'd screwed her down. 
An his father chiwyed him oot they wouldn't have him 
at the funeral. But folks were a deal madder with Mr. Hel- 
beck, you understan, nor with Teddy. Teddy's father and 
brothers are chapel folk Primitive Methodists they call 
'em. They've got a big chapel in Whinthorpe an they 
raised the whole place on Mr. Helbeck, and one night, 
coming out of Whinthorpe, he was set on by a lot of 
fellows, chapel fellows, a bit fresh, you understan. 


Father was there he never denied it not he ! Helbeck 
just got into the old mill by the bridge in time, but 
they'd marked his face for him all the same.' 

1 Ah ! ' said Laura, staring into the fire. She had 
just remembered a dark scar on Mr. Helbeck's forehead, 
under the strong ripples of black hair. ' Go on do ! ' 

' Oh ! afterwards there was a lot of men bound over 
father among 'em. There was a priest with Mr. Helbeck 
who got it hot too that old chap Bowles I dare say 
you've seen him. Aye, he's a snake, is Helbeck ! ' the 
young man repeated. Then he reddened still more deeply, 
and added with vindictive emphasis ' and an interfering, 
hypocritical, canting sort of party into t f bargain. 
He'd like to lord it over everybody aboot here, if he was 
let. But he's as poor as a church rat who minds him ? ' 

The language was extraordinary so was the tone. 
Laura had been gazing at the speaker in a growing 

I Thank you ! ' she said impetuously, when Mason 
stopped. ' Thank you ! but, in spite of your story, I 
don't think you ought to speak like that of the gentleman 
I am staying with ! ' 

Mason threw himself back in his chair. He was 
evidently trying to control himself. 

' I didn't mean no offence,' he said at last, with a 
return of the sulky voice. ' Of course I understand that 
you're staying with the quality, and not with the likes 
of us.' 

Laura's face lit up with laughter. ' What an extra- 
ordinary silly thing to say ! But I don't mind I'll for- 
give you like I did years ago, when you pushed me 
into the puddle ! ' 

I 1 pushed you into a puddle ? But I never did owt o' 
t' sort ! ' cried Mason, in a slow crescendo of astonish- 


1 Oh yes, you did,' she nodded her little head. ' I 
broke an egg, and you bullied me. Of course I thought 
you were a horrid boy and I loved Polly, who cleaned 
my shoes and put me straight. Where's Polly, is she at 
church ? ' 

' Aye I dare say,' said Mason stupidly, watching his 
visitor meanwhile with all his eyes. She had just put up 
a small hand and taken off her cap. Now, mechanically, 
she began to pat and arrange the little curls upon her 
forehead, then to take out and replace a hairpin or two, 
so as to fasten the golden mass behind a little more 
securely. The white fingers moved with an exquisite 
sureness and daintiness, the lifted arms showed all the 
young curves of the girl's form. 

Suddenly Laura turned to him again. Her eyes had 
been staring dreamily into the fire, while her hands had 
been busy with her hair. 

' So you don't remember our visit at all ? You don't 
remember papa ? ' 

He shook his head. 

' Ah ! well ' she sighed. Mason felt unaccountably 

'I was always terr'ble bad at remembering,' he said 

' But you ought to have remembered papa.' Then, in 
quite a different voice, ' Is this your sitting-room ' she 
looked round it ' or or your kitchen ? ' 

The last words fell rather timidly, lest she might have 
hurt his feelings. 

Mason jumped up. 

' Why, yon's the parlour,' he said. ' I should ha' taken 
you there fust thing. Will you coom ? I'll soon make a 

. And walking across the kitchen, he threw open a 
further door ceremoniously. Laura followed, pausing 


just inside the threshold to look round the little musty 
sitting-room, with its framed photographs, its woollen 
mats, its rocking chairs, and its square of mustard- 
coloured carpet. Mason watched her furtively all the 
time, to see how the place struck her. 

' Oh, this isn't as nice as the kitchen,' she said 
decidedly. ' What's that ? ' she pointed to a pewter cup 
standing stately and alone upon the largest possible 
wool mat in the centre of a table. 

Mason threw back his head and chuckled. His great 
chest seemed to fill out ; all his sulky constraint dropped 

' Of course you doan't know anythin' aboot these parts/ 
he said to her with condescension. ' You don't know as 
I came near bein' champion for the County lasst year no, 
I'll reckon you don't. Oh! that cup's nowt that's 
nobbut Whinthorpe sports, lasst December. Maybe 
there'll be a better there, by-and-by.' 

The young giant grinned, as he took up the cup and 
pointed with assumed indifference to its inscription. 

' What football ? ' said Laura, putting up her hand to 
hide a yawn. ' Oh ! I don't care about football. But I 
love cricket. Why you've got a piano and a new one ! ' 

Mason's face cleared again in quite another fashion. 

'Do you know the maker?' he said eagerly. 'I 
believe he's thowt a deal of by them as knows. I bought 
it myself out o' the sheep. The lambs had done fust-rate, 
an I'd had more'n half the trooble of 'em, ony ways. 
So I took no heed o' mother. I went down straight to 
Whinthrupp, an paid the first instalment an browt it up 
in the cart mesel'. Mr. Castle do yo knaw 'im ? he's 
the organist at the parish church he came with me to 
choose it.' 

' And is it you that play it,' said Laura wondering, 
' or your sister ? ' 



He looked at her in silence for a moment and she at 
him. His aspect seemed to change under her eyes. The 
handsome points of the face came out ; its coarseness and 
loutishness receded. And his manner became suddenly quiet 
and manly though full of an almost tremulous eagerness. 

' You like it ?' she asked him. 

' What music ? I should think so ! ' 

' Oh ! I forgot you're all musical in these northern 
parts, aren't you ? ' 

He made no answer, but sat down to the piano and 
opened it. She leant over the back of a chair, watching 
him, half incredulous, half amused. 

' I say did you ever hear this ? I believe it was some 
Cambridge fellow made it Castle said so. He played it 
to me. And I can't get further than just a bit of it.' 

He raised his great hands and brought them down in 
a burst of chords that shook the little room and the 
raftered ceiling. Laura stared. He played on played 
like a musician, though with occasional stumbling played 
with a mingled energy and delicacy, an understanding 
and abandonment that amazed her then grew crimson 
with the effort to remember wavered and stopped. 

1 Goodness ! ' cried Laura. ' Why, that's Stanford's 
music to the Eumenides ! How on earth did you hear 
that ? Go away. I can play it.' 

She pushed him away and sat down. He hung over 
her, his face smiling and transformed, while her little 
hands struggled with the chords, found the after melody, 
pursued it, with pauses now and then, in which he 
would strike in, prompting her, putting his hand down 
with hers and finally, after modulations which she 
made her way through, with laughter and head-shakings, 
she fell into a weird dance, to which he beat time with 
hands and limbs, urging her with a rain of comments. 

' Oh ! my goody isn't that rousing ? Play that again 


just that change just once! Oh! Lord isn't that 
good, that chord and that bit afterwards what a bass ! 
I say, isn't it a bass? Don't you like it don't you 
like it awfully ? ' 

Suddenly she wheeled round from the piano, and sat 
fronting him, her hands on her knees. He fell back into 
a chair. 

' I say ' he said slowly ' you are a grand 'un ! 
If I'd only known you could play like that ! ' 

Her laugh died away. To his amazement she began 
to frown. 

' I haven't played ten notes since papa died. He 
liked it so.' 

She turned her back to him, and began to look at the 
torn music at the top of the piano. 

' But you will play you'll play to me again ' he 
said, beseechingly. ' Why it would be a sin if you didn't 
play ! Wouldn't I play if I could play like you ! I 
never had more than a lesson, now and again, from old 
Castle. I used to steal mother's eggs to pay him I can 
play anything I hear and I've made a song old Castle's 
writing it down he says he'll teach me to do it some day. 
But of course I'm no good for playing I never shall be 
any good. Look at those fingers they're like bits of 
stick beastly things ! ' 

He thrust them out indignantly for her inspection. 
Laura looked at them with a professional air. 

'I don't call it a bad hand. I expect you've no 

' Haven't I ! I tell you I'd play all day, if it 'Id do 
any good but it won't.' 

' And how about the poor farm ? ' said Laura, with a 
lifted brow. 

' Oh ! the farm the farm dang the farm 1 ' said 
Mason, violently, slapping his knee. 



Suddenly there was a sound of voices outside, a 
clattering on the stones of the farmyard. 

Mason sprang up, all frowns. 

' That's mother. Here, let's shut the piano quick I 
She can't abide it.' 


MASON went out to meet his mother, and Laura waited. 
She stood where she had risen, beside the piano, looking 
nervously towards the door. Childish remembrances 
and alarms seemed to be thronging back into her mind. 

There was a noise of voices in the outer room. Then 
a handle was roughly turned, and Laura saw before her 
a short stout woman, with grey hair, and the most 
piercing black eyes. Intimidated by the eyes, and by the 
sudden pause of the newcomer on the threshold, Miss 
Fountain could only look at her interrogatively. 

'Is it Cousin Elizabeth?' she said, holding out a 
wavering hand. 

Mrs. Mason scarcely allowed her own to be touched. 

1 We're not used to visitors i' church-time,' she said 
abruptly, in a deep funereal voice. ' Mappen you'll sit 

And still holding the girl with her eyes, she walked 
across to an old rocking-chair, let herself fall into it, and 
with a loud sigh loosened her bonnet strings. 

Laura, in her amazement, had to strangle a violent 
inclination to laugh. Then she flushed brightly, and sat 
down on the wooden stool in front of the piano. Mrs. 
Mason, still staring at her, seemed to wait for her to 
speak. But Laura would say nothing. 

1 Soa thoo art Stephen Fountain's dowter art tha ? ' 


' Yes and you have seen me before,' was the girl's 
quiet reply. 

She said to herself that her cousin had the eyes of a 
bird of prey. So black and fierce they were, in the 
greyish white face under the shaggy hair. But she was 
not afraid. Bather she felt her own temper rising. 

' How long is 't sen your feyther deed ? ' 

' Nine months. But you knew that, I think because 
I wrote it you.' 

Mrs. Mason's heavy lids blinked a moment, then she 
said with slowly quickening emphasis, like one mounting 
to a crisis 

' Wat art tha doin' wi' Bannisdale Hall ? What call 
has thy feyther's dowter to be visitin onder Alan Hel- 
beck's roof ? ' 

Laura's open mouth showed first wonderment, then 

' Oh ! I see,' she said impatiently ' you don't seem 
to understand. But of course you remember that my 
father married Miss Helbeck for his second wife ? ' 

' Aye, an she cam oot fra amang them ' exclaimed 
Mrs. Mason ' she put away from her the accursed 
thing ! ' 

The massive face was all aglow, transformed, with a 
kind of sombre fire. Laura stared afresh. 

' She gave up being a Catholic, if that's what you 
mean' she said, after a moment's pause. 'But she 
couldn't keep to it. When papa fell ill, and she was un- 
happy, she went back. And then of course she made it 
up with her brother.' 

The triumph in Mrs. Mason's face yielded first to 
astonishment, then to anger. 

' The poor weak doited thing ' she said at last in a 
tone of indescribable contempt ' The poor silly fule 1 


But naebody need ha* luked for onything betther from 
a Helbeck. And I daur say ' she lifted her voice fiercely 
' I daur say she took yo' wi' her, an it's along o' 
thattens as yo're coom to spy on us oop here ? ' 
Laura sprang up. 

' Me ! ' she said indignantly. ' You think I'm a 
CatTiplin and a spy? How kind of you ! But of course 
you don't know anything about my father, nor how he 
brought me up. As for my poor little stepmother, I 
came here with her to get her well, and I shall stay 
with her till she is well. I really don't know why you 
talk to me like this. I suppose you have cause to dislike 
Mr. Helbeck, but it is very odd that you should visit it 
on me, papa's daughter, when I come to see you ! ' 

The girl's voice trembled, but she threw back her 
slender neck with a gesture that became her. The door, 
which had been closed, stealthily opened. Hubert Mason's 
face appeared in the doorway. It was gazing eagerly 
admiringly at Miss Fountain. 

Mrs. Mason did not see him. Nor was she daunted 
by Laura's anger. 

1 It's aw yan ' she said, stubbornly. ' Thoo ha" made 
a covenant wi 1 the Amorite an' the Amalekite. They ha' 
called tha, an thoo art eatin o' their sacrifices ! ' 

There was an uneasy laugh from the door, and Laura, 
turning her astonished eyes in that direction, perceived 
Hubert standing in the doorway, and behind him another 
head thrust eagerly forward the head of a young woman 
in a much betrimmed Sunday hat. 

' I say, mother, let her be, wil tha ? ' said a hearty 
voice ; and, pushing Hubert aside, the owner of the hat 
entered the room. She went up to Laura, and gave her 
a loud kiss. 

1 I'm Polly Polly Mason. An I know who you are 


weel enough. Doan't you pay ony attention to mother. 
That's her way. Hubert an I take it very kind of you 
to come and see us.' 

' Mother's rats on Amorites ! ' said Hubert, grinning. 

' Eats ? Amorites ? ' said Laura, looking piteously 
at Polly, whose hand she held. 

Polly laughed, a bouncing good-humoured laugh. She 
herself was a bouncing good-humoured person, the appa- 
rent antithesis of her mother with her lively eyes, her 
frizzled hair, her high cheek-bones touched with a bright 

' Yo'll have to get oop early to understan them two,' 
she declared. ' Mother's allus talkin out o* t' Bible, an 
Hubert picks up a lot o' low words out o' Whinthrupp 
streets an there 'tis. But now look here yo'll stay 
an tak a bit o' dinner with us ? ' 

' I don't want to be in your way,' said Laura formally. 
Eeally, she had some difficulty to control the quiver of 
her lips, though it would have been difficult to say whether 
laughter or tears came nearest. 

At this Polly broke out in voluble protestations, 
investigating her cousin's dress all the time, fingering her 
little watch-chain, and even taking up a corner of the 
pretty cloth jacket that she might examine the quality of 
it. Laura, however, looked at Mrs. Mason 

'If Cousin Elizabeth wishes me to stay,' she said 

Polly burst into another loud laugh. 

' Yo see, it goes agen mother to be shakin hands wi' 
yan that's livin wi' Papists and Misther Helbeck by the 
bargain. So wheniver mother talks aboot Amorites or 
Jebusites, or any o' thattens, she nobbut means Papist 
Eomanists as our minister coes 'em. He's every bit as 
bad as her. He would as lief shake hands wi' Mr. 
Helbeck as wi' the owd 'un ! ' 


1 I'll uphowd ye Mr. Bayley hasn't preached a sermon 

this ten year wi'oot chiwyin Papists ! ' said Hubert 
from the door. 'An yo'll not find yan o' them in his 
parish if yo were to hunt it wi' a lantern for a week o* 
Sundays. When I was a lad I thowt Komanists were a 
soart o' varmin. I awmost looked to see 'em nailed to V 
barndoor, saine as stoats ! ' 

' But how strange ! ' cried Laura ' when there are so / 
few Catholics about here. And no one hates Catholics / 
now. One may just despise them.' y 

She looked from mother to son in bewilderment. 
Not only Hubert's speech, but his whole manner had 
broadened and coarsened since his mother's arrival. 

' Well, if there isn't mony, they make a deal o' talk,' 
said Polly ' onyways sence Mr. Helbeck came to t* Hall. 
Mother, I'll take Miss Fountain oopstairs, to get her 
hat off.' 

During all the banter of her son and daughter Mrs. 
Mason had sat in a disdainful silence, turning her strange 
eyes the eyes of a fanatic, in a singularly shrewd and 
capable face now on Laura, now on her children. 
Laura looked at her again, irresolute whether to go 
or stay. Then an impulse seized her which astonished 
herself. For it was an impulse of liking, an impulse of 
kinship ; and as she quickly crossed the room to Mrs. 
Mason's side, she said in a pretty pleading voice : 

' But you see, Cousin Elizabeth, I'm not a Catholic 
and papa wasn't a Catholic. And I couldn't help Mrs. 
Fountain's going back to her old religion you shouldn't 
visit it on me ! ' 

Mrs. Mason looked up. 

' Why art- tha not at church on t' Lord's day ? ' 

The question came stern and quick. 

Laura wavered, then drew herself up. 

' Because I'm not your sort either. I don't believe in 


your church, or your ministers. Father didn't, and I'm 
like him.' 

Her voice had grown thick, and she was quite pale. 
The old woman stared at her. 

' Then yo're nobbut yan o' the heathen ! ' she said 
with slow precision. 

' I dare say ! ' cried Laura, half laughing, half crying 
' That's my affair. But I declare I think I hate Catholics 
as much as you there, Cousin Elizabeth ! I don't hate 
my stepmother, of course. I promised father to take 
care of her. But that's another matter.' 

' Dost tha hate Alan Helbeck ? ' said Mrs. Mason 
suddenly, her black eyes opening in a flash. 

The girl hesitated, caught her breath then was seized 
with the strangest, most abject desire to propitiate this 
grim woman with the passionate look. 

' Yes ! ' she said, wildly. ' No, no ! that's silly. I 
haven't had time to hate him. But I don't like him, any 
way. I'm nearly sure I shall hate him ! ' 

There was no mistaking the truth in her tone. 

Mrs. Mason slowly rose. Her chest heaved with one 
long breath, then subsided; her brow tightened. She 
turned to her son. 

' Art tha goin to let Daffady do all thy work for tha ? ' 
she said sharply. ' Has t" roan calf bin looked to ? ' 

'Aye I'm going,' said Hubert evasively, and sheepishly 
straightening himself he made for the front door, throwing 
back more than one look as he departed at his new 

' And you really want me to stay ? ' repeated Laura 
insistently, addressing Mrs. Mason. 

1 Yo're welcome,' was the stiff reply. ' Nobbut yo'd 
been mair welcome if yo hadna brokken t' Sabbath to 
coom here. Mappen yo'll goa wi' Polly, an tak your 
bonnet off.' 


Laura hesitated a moment longer, bit her lip, and 

Polly Mason was a great talker. In the few minutes 
she spent with Laura upstairs, before she hurried down 
again to help her mother with the Sunday dinner, she 
asked her new cousin innumerable questions, showing an 
intense curiosity as to Bannisdale and the Helbecks, a 
burning desire to know whether Laura had any money of 
her own, or was still dependent upon her stepmother, 
and a joyous, appropriative pride in Miss Fountain's 
gentility and good looks. 

The frankness of Polly's flatteries, and the exuberance 
of her whole personality, ended by producing a certain 
stiffness in Laura. Every now and then, hi the intervals 
of Polly's questions, when she ceased to be inquisitive 
and became confidential, Laura would wonder to herself. 
She would half shut her eyes, trying to recall the mental 
image of her cousins and of the farm, with which she 
had started that morning from Bannisdale ; or she would 
think of her father, his modes of life and speech was he 
really connected, and how, with this place and its in- 
mates? She had expected something simple and 
patriarchal. She had found a family of peasants, living 
in a struggling, penurious way a grim mother speaking 
broad dialect, a son with no pretensions to refinement 
or education, except perhaps through his music and a 


Laura turned an attentive eye on Polly on her 
high and red cheek-bones, the extravagant fringe that 
vulgarised all her honest face, the Sunday dress of stone- 
coloured alpaca, profusely trimmed with magenta ribbons. 

' I will I will like her ! ' she said to herself 
> ' I am a horrid, snobbish, fastidious little wretch.' 

But her spirits had sunk. When Polly left her she 


leant for a moment upon the sill of the open window, 
and looked out. Across the dirty, uneven yard, where 
the manure lay in heaps outside the byre doors, she saw 
the rude farm buildings huddled against each other in a 
mean, unsightly group. Down below, from the house- 
porch apparently, a cracked bell began to ring, and from 
some doors opposite three labourers, the ' hired men/ 
who lived and boarded on the farm, came out. The first 
two were elderly men, gnarled and bent like tough trees 
that have fought the winter ; the third was a youth. 
They were tidily dressed in Sunday clothes, for their 
work was done, and they were ready for the afternoon's 

They walked across to the farmhouse in silence, one 
behind the other. Not even the young fellow raised his 
eyes to the window and the girl framed within it; 
Behind them came a gust of piercing easterly wind. A 
cloud had covered the sun. The squalid farmyard, the 
bare fell-side beyond it, the distant levels of the marsh, 
had taken to themselves a cold forbidding air. Laura 
again imagined it in December a waste of snow, with 
the farm making an ugly spot upon the white, and the 
little black-bearded sheep she could see feeding on the fell, 
crowding under the rocks for shelter. But this time she 
shivered. All the spell was broken. To live up here 
with this madwoman, this strange youth and Polly! 
Yet it seemed to her that something drew her to 
Cousin Elizabeth if she were not so mad. How strange 
to find this abhorrence of Mr. Helbeck among these 
people so different, so remote ! She remembered her 
own words ' I am sure I shall hate him ! ' not without 
a stab of conscience. What had she been doing per- 
haps but adding her own injustice to theirs ? 

She stood lost in a young puzzle and heat of f eeling < 
half angry, half repentant. 


But only for a second. Then certain phrases of 
Augustina's rang through her mind she saw herself 
standing in the corner of the chapel while the others 
prayed. Every pulse tightened her whole nature leapt 
again in defiance. She seemed to be holding something 
at bay a tyrannous power that threatened humiliation 
and hypocrisy, that seemed at the same time to be prying 
into secret things things it should never, never know 
and never rule ! 

Yes, she did understand Cousin Elizabeth she did ! 


The dinner went sadly. The viands were heavy : so 
were the faces of the labourers, and the air of the low- 
raftered kitchen, heated as it was by a huge fire, and 
pervaded by the smell from the farmyard. Laura felt it 
all very strange, the presence of the farm-servants at 
the same table with the Masons and herself the long 
silences that no one made an effort to break the relations 
between Hubert and his mother. 

As for the labourers, Mason addressed them now and 
then in a bullying voice, and they spoke to him as little 
as they could. It seemed to Laura that there was an 
alliance between them and the mother against a lazy 
and incompetent master ; and that the lad's vanity was 
perpetually alive to it. Again and again he would pull him- 
self together, attempt the gentleman, and devote himself to 
his young lady guest. But in the midst of their conversa- 
tion he would hear something at the other end of the 
table, and suddenly there would come a burst of fierce un- 
intelligible speech between him and the mistress of the 
house, while the labourers sat silent and sly, and Polly's 
loud laugh would break in, trying to make peace. 

Laura's cool grey eyes followed the youth with a 
constant critical wonder. In any other circumstances 
she would not have thought him worth an instant's 


attention. She had all the supercilious impatience of the 
pretty girl accustomed to choose her company. But this 
odd fact of kinship held and harassed her. She wanted 
to understand these Masons her father's folk. 

' Now he is really talking quite nicely,' she said to her- 
self on one occasion, when Hubert had found in the gifts 
and accomplishments of his friend Castle, the organist, a 
subject that untied his tongue and made him almost 
agreeable. Suddenly a question caught his ear. 

' Daffady, did tha turn the coo ? ' said his mother in a 
loud voice. Even in the homeliest question, it had the 
same penetrating, passionate quality that belonged to her 
gaze to her whole personality indeed. 

Hubert dropped his phrase and hi* knife and fork 
and stared angrily at Daffady, the old cowman and 

Daffady threw his master a furtive look, then munched 
through a mouthful of bread and cheese without replying. 

He was a grey and taciturn person, with a provocative 
look of patience. 

' What tha bin doin wi' th' coo ? ' said Hubert sharply. 
1 1 left her mysel nobbut half an hour sen.' 

Daffady turned his head again in Hubert's direction 
for a moment, then deliberately addressed the mistress 

' Aye, aye, missus ' he spoke in a high small voice 
' A turned her reet enoof , an a gied her soom fresh straa, 
for her yed. She doin varra middlin.' 

' If she'd been turned yesterday in a proper fashion, 
she'd ha' bin on her feet by now,' said Mrs. Mason with 
a glance at her son. 

' Nowt o' t' soart, mother,' cried Hubert. He leant 
forward, flushed with wrath, or beer his potations had 
begun to fill Laura with dismay and spoke with ahectoring 
violence. ' I tell tha when t' farrier cam oop last night, he 
said she'd been managed first-rate ! If yo an Daffady 


had yor way wi' yor fallals an yor nonsense, yo'd never 
leave a poor sick creetur alone for five minutes I towd 
Daffady to let her be, an I'll let him knaa who's measter 
here ! ' 

He glared at the carter, quite regardless of Laura's 
presence. Polly coughed loudly and tried to make a 
diversion by getting up to clear away the plates. The 
three combatants took no notice. 

Daffady slowly ran his tongue round his lips ; then he 
said, again looking at the mistress 

1 If a hadna turned her I dew believe she'd ha' gien 
oos t' slip she was terr'ble swollen as 'twos.' 

' I tell tha to let her be I ' thundered Hubert. ' If she 
deas, that's ma consarn I'll ha' noa meddlin wi' my 
orders dost tha hear? ' 

' Aye, it wor thirrty poond thraan awa lasst month, an 
it'll be thirrty poond this ' said his mother slowly 
' thoo art fine at shoutin. Bit thy fadther had need ha' 
addlet his brass to gie thee summat to thraw oot o' 

Hubert rose from the table with an oath, stood for 
an instant looking down at Laura glowering and pulling 
fiercely at his moustache then, noisily opening the front 
door, he strode across the yard to the byres. 

There was an instant's silence. Then Mrs. Mason 
rose with her hands clasped before her, her eyes half 

'For what we ha' received the Lord mak us truly 
thankful ' she said in a loud nasal voice ' Amen.' 

After dinner, Laura put on an apron of Polly's, and 
helped her cousin to clear away. Mrs. Mason had 
gruffly bade her sit still, but when the girl persisted, she 
herself flushed with dinner and combat took her seat 
on the settle, opposite to old Daffady, and deliberately 


made holiday watching Stephen's daughter all the time 
from the black eyes that roved and shone so strangely 
under the shaggy brows and the white hair. 

The old cowman sat hunched over the fire, smoking 
his pipe for a time in beatific silence. 

But presently Laura, as she went to and fro, caught 
snatches of conversation. 

' Did tha go ta Laysgill last Sunday ? ' said Mrs. 
Mason abruptly. 

Daffady removed his pipe. 

' Aye a went an a preeched. It wor a varra stirrin 
meetin. Sum o' yor paid preests sud ha bin theer. A" 
gien it 'em strang. A tried ta hit 'em all baith gert an 

There was a pause, then he added, placidly 

1 A likely suden't suit them varra weel. Theer was a 
mon beside me, as pooed me down afoor a'd hofe doon.' : 

' Tha sudna taak o' " paid preests," Daffady,' said 
Mrs. Mason severely. ' Tha doosna understand nowt o' 

Daffady glanced slyly at his mistress at the ' Church- 
pride ' implied in the attitude of her capacious form, in 
the shining of the Sunday alpaca and black silk apron. 

' Mebbe not,' he said mildly, ' mebbe not.' And he re- 
sumed his pipe. 

On another occasion, as Laura went flitting across the 
kitchen, drawing to herself the looks of both its inmates, she 
heard what seemed to be a fragment of talk about a 

' Aye poor Jenny ! ' said Mrs. Mason. ' They didna 
mak' mich account on her whan t' breath wor yanst oot 
on her.' 

' Nay ' Daffady shook his head for sympathy ' It 
wor a varra poor set-oot, wor Jenny's buryin. Nowt 
but tay, an sic-like.' 


Mrs. Mason raised two gaunt hands and let them drop 
again on her knee. 

' I shud ha' thowt they'd ha' bin ashamed,' she said. 
' Jenny's brass ull do 'em noa gude. She wor a fule to 
leave it to un.' 

Daffady withdrew his pipe again. His lantern-jawed 
face, furrowed with slow thought, hung over the blaze. 

' Aye ' he said ' aye. Wai, I've buried three childer 
an I'm nobbut a labrin mon but a thank the Lord I 
ha buried them aw wi' ham.' 

The last words came out with solemnity. Laura, at 
the other end of the kitchen, turned open-mouthed to look 
at the pair. Not a feature moved in either face. She 
sped back into the dairy, and Polly looked up in astonish- 

' What ails tha ? ' she said. 

' Oh, nothing ! ' said Laura, dashing the merry tears 
from her eyes. She proceeded to roll up her sleeves, and 
plunge her hands and arms into the bowl of warm water 
that Polly had set before her. Meanwhile, Polly, very 
big and square, much reddened also by the fuss of house- 
hold work, stood just behind her cousin's shoulder, look- 
ing down, half in envy, half in admiration, at the slimness 
of the white wrists and pretty fingers. 

A little later the two girls, all traces of their house- 
work removed, came back into the kitchen. Daffady and 
Mrs. Mason had disappeared. 

' Where is Cousin Elizabeth ? ' said Laura rather 
sharply, as she looked round her. 

Polly explained that her mother was probably shut up 
in her bedroom reading her Bible. That was her custom 
on a Sunday afternoon. 

1 Why, I haven't spoken to her at all ! ' cried Laura. 
Her cheek had flushed. 

Polly showed embarrassment. 

H 2 


' Next time yo coom, mother 11 tak mair noatice. She 
was takkin stock o' you t' whole time, I'll uphowd yo.' 

' That isn't what I wanted,' said Laura. 

She walked to the window and leaned her head 
against the frame. Polly watched her with compunction, 
seeing quite plainly the sudden drop of the lip. All she 
could do was to propose to show her cousin the house. 

Laura languidly consented. 

So they wandered again through the dark stone-slabbed 
dairy, with its milk pans on the one side and its bacon- 
curing troughs on the other ; and into the little stuffy 
bedrooms upstairs, each with its small oak four-poster 
and patchwork counterpane. They looked at the home- 
made quilt of goosedown Polly's handiwork that lay on 
Hubert's bed ; at the clusters of faded photographs and 
coloured prints that hung on the old uneven walls; at 
the vast meal-ark in Polly's room that held the family 
store of meal and oatcake for the year. 

' When we wor little uns, fadther used to give me an 
Hubert a silver saxpence the day he browt home t' fresh 
melder fro' t' mill ' said Polly ' theer was parlish little 
nobbut paritch an oatcake to eat when we wor small. 
An now I'll uphold yo there isn't a farm servant but 
wants his white bread yanst a day whativver happens.' 

The house was neat and clean, but there were few 
comforts in it, and no luxuries. It showed, too, a 
number of small dilapidations that a very little money and 
care would soon have set to rights. Polly pointed to them 
sadly. There was no money, and Hubert didn't trouble 
himself. 'Fadther was allus workin. He'd be up at 
half-past four this time o' year, an he didna go to bed 
soa early noather. But Hubert 'ull do nowt he can help. 
Yo can hardly get him to tak t' peats i' ter Whinthorpe 
when t' peat-cote's brastin wi' em. An' as fer doin a job 
o' cartin fer t' neebors, t' horses may be eatin their 


heads off, Hubert woan't stir hissel. " Let 'em lead their 
aan muck for theirsels " that's what he'll say. Iver sen 
fadther deed it's bin janglin atwixt mother an Hubert. 
It makes her mad to see iverything goin downhill. An 
he's that masterful he woan't be towd. Yo saw how he 
went on wi' Daffady at dinner. But if it weren't for 
Daffady an us, there'd be no stock left.' 

And poor Polly, sitting on the edge of the meal-ark 
and dangling her large feet, went into a number of 
plaintive details, that were mostly unintelligible, some- 
times repulsive, in Laura's ears. 

It seemed that Hubert was always threatening to 
leave the farm. ' Give me a bit of money, and you'll 
soon be quit of me. I'll go to Froswick, and make my 
fortune' that was what he'd say to his mother. But 
who was going to give him money to throw about ? And 
he couldn't sell the farm while Mrs. Mason lived, by the 
father's will. 

As to her mother, Polly admitted that she was ' gey 
ill to live wi'.' There was no one like her for ' addlin a 
bit here and addlin a bit there.' She was the best maker 
and seller of butter in the country side ; but she had 
been queer about religion ever since an illness that 
attacked her as a young woman. 

And now it was Mr. Bayley, the minister, who excited 
her, and made her worse. Polly, for her part, hated 
him. ' My worrd, he do taak ! ' said she. And every 
Sunday he preached against Catholics, and the Pope, 
and such like. And as there were no Catholics anywhere 
near, but Mr. Helbeck at Bannisdale, and a certain number 
at Whinthorpe, people didn't know what to make of him. 
And they laughed at him, and left off going except 
occasionally for curiosity, because he preached in a black 
gown, which, so Polly heard tell, was very uncommon 
nowadays. But mother would listen to him by the hour. 


And it was all along of Teddy Williams. It was that had 
set her mad. 

Here, however, Polly broke off to ask an eager question. 
What had Mr. Helbeck said when Laura told him of her 
wish to go and see her cousins ? 

' I'll warrant he wasn't best pleased ! Feyther couldn't 
abide him because of Teddy. He didn't thraw no 
stones that neet i' Whinthrupp Lane feyther was a strict 
man an read his Bible reg'lar but he stood wi' t' lads an 
looked on he didn't say owt to stop 'em. Mr. Helbeck 
called to him he had a priest with him " Mr. Mason ! " 
he ses, " this is an old man speak to those fellows ! " 
But feyther wouldn't. " Let 'em trounce tha ! " he ses 
" aye, an him too ! It'ull do tha noa harm." Well, an 
what did he say, Mr. Helbeck ? I'd like to know.' 

' Say ? Nothing except that it was a long way, and 
I might have the pony carriage.' 

Laura's tone was rather dry. She was sitting on the 
edge of Polly's bed, with her arm round one of its oaken 
posts. Her cheek was laid against the post, and her eyes 
had been wandering about a good deal while Polly talked. 
Till the mention of Helbeck. Then her attention came 
back. And during Polly's account of the incident in 
Whinthorpe Lane, she began to frown. What bigotry t 
after all! As to the story of young Williams it was 
very perplexing she would get the truth of it out of 
Augustina. But it was extraordinary that it should be 
so well known in this upland farm that it should make 
a kind of link a link of hatred between Mr. Helbeck 
and the Masons. After her movement of wild sympathy 
with Mrs. Mason, she realised now, as Polly's chatter 
slipped on, that she understood her cousins almost as 
little as she did Helbeck. 

Nay, more. The picture of Helbeck stoned and 
abused by these rough, uneducated folk had begun to 


rouse in her a curious sympathy. Unwillingly her mind 
invested him with a new dignity. 

So that when Polly told a rambling story of how 
Mr. Bayley, after the street fight, had met Mr. Helbeck 
at a workhouse meeting and had placed his hands behind 
his back when Mr. Helbeck offered his own, Laura 
tossed her head. 

' What a ridiculous man ! ' she said disdainfully 
'what can it matter to Mr. Helbeck whether Mr. Bayley 
shakes hands with him or not ? ' 

Polly looked at her in some astonishment, and 
dropped the subject. The elder woman, conscious of 
plainness and inferiority, was humbly anxious to please 
her new cousin. The girl's delicate and characteristic 
physique, her clear eyes and decided ways, and a certain 
look she had in conversation half absent, half critical 
which was inherited from her father, all of them com- 
bined to intimidate the homely Polly, and she felt per- 
haps less at ease with her visitor as she saw more of her. 

Presently they stood before some old photographs 
on Polly's mantelpiece; Polly looked timidly at her 

' Doan't yo think as Hubert's varra handsome ?' she 

And taking up one of the portraits, she brushed it 
with her sleeve and handed it to Laura. 

Laura held it up for scrutiny. 

' No o,' she said coolly ' not really handsome.' 

Polly looked disappointed. 

' There's not a mony gells aboot here as doan't coe 
Hubert handsome,' she said with emphasis. 

'It's Hubert's business to call the girls handsome/ 
eaid Laura, laughing, and handing back the picture. 

Polly grinned then suddenly looked grave. 

' I wish he'd leave t' gells alone ! ' she said with an 


accent of some energy ' he'll mappen get into trooble 
yan o' these days ! ' 

' They don't keep him in his place, I suppose,' said 
Laura, flushing, she hardly knew why. She got up and 
walked across the room to the window. What did she 
want to know about Hubert and ' t' gells ' ? She hated 
vulgar and lazy young men ! though they might have a 
musical gift that, so to speak, did not belong to them. 

Nevertheless she turned round again to ask, with 
some imperiousness 

' Where is your brother ? what is he doing all this 
time ? ' 

' Sittin alongside the coo, I dare say lest Daffady 
should be gettin the credit of her,' said Polly, laughing. 
' The poor creetur fell three days sen summat like a 
stroke, t' farrier said an Hubert's bin that jealous o' 
Daffady iver sen. He's actually "poo'ed hissel oot o' bed 
mornin's to luke after her ! Lord bless us I mun goa 
an feed t' calves ! ' 

And hastily throwing an apron over her Sunday gown, 
Polly clattered down the stairs in a whirlwind. 

Laura followed her more leisurely, passed through the 
empty kitchen and opened the front door. 

As she stood under the porch, looking out, she put up 
a small hand to hide a yawn. When she set out that 
morning she had meant to spend the whole day at the 
farm. Now it was not yet tea-time, and she was more 
than ready to go. In truth her heart was hot, and rather 
bitter. Cousin Elizabeth, certainly, had treated her with 
a strange coolness. And as for Hubert after that burst 
of friendship, beside the piano ! She drew herself together 
sharply she would go at once and ask him for her pony- 

Lifting her skirt daintily, she picked her way across 


the dirty yard, and fumbled at a door opposite the door 
whence she had seen old Daffady come out at dinner- 

1 Who's there ? ' shouted a threatening voice from 

Laura succeeded in lifting the clumsy latch. Hubert 
Mason, from inside, saw a small golden head appear in 
the doorway. 

1 Would you kindly help me get the pony-cart ? ' said 
the light, half-sarcastic voice of Miss Fountain. ' I must 
be going, and Polly's feeding the calves.' 

Her eyes at first distinguished nothing but a row of 
dim animal forms, in crowded stalls under a low roof. 
Then she saw a cow lying on the ground, and Hubert 
Mason beside her, amid the wreaths of smoke that he 
was puffing from a clay pipe. The place was dark, 
close, and fetid. She withdrew her head hastily. There 
was a muttering and movement inside, and Mason came 
to the door, thrusting his pipe into his pocket. 

1 What do you want to go for, just yet ? ' he said 

' I ought to get home.' 

' No ! you don't care for us, nor our ways. That's it 
an I don't wonder.' 

She made polite protestations, but he would not listen 
to them. He strode on beside her in a stormy silence, 
till the impulse to prick him overmastered her. 

' Do you generally sit with the cows ? ' she asked 
him, sweetly. She shot her grey eyes towards him, all 
mockery and cool examination. He was not accustomed 
to such looks from the young women whom he chose to 

' I was not going to stay and be treated like that before 
strangers ! ' he said, with a sulky fierceness. ' Mother 
thinks she and Daffady can just have their own way with 


me, as they'd used to do when I was nobbut a lad. But 
I'll let her know aye, and the men too ! ' 

' But if you hate farming, why don't you let Daffady do 
the work ? ' 

Her sly voice stung him afresh. 

' Because I'll be measter ! ' he said, bringing his hand 
violently down on the shaft of the pony-cart. 'If I'm 
to stay on in this beastly hole I'll make every one knaw 
their place. Let mother give me some money an I'll 
soon take myself off, an leave her an Daffady to draw 
their own water their own way. But if I'm here I'm 
measter ! ' he struck the cart again. 

'Is it true you don't work nearly as hard as your 

He looked at her amazed. If Susie Flinders down 
at the mill had spoken to him like that, he would have 
known how to shut her mouth for her. 

'An I daur say it is ! ' he said hotly. ' I'm not goin 
to lead the dog's life my father did all for the sake 
of diddlin another sixpence or two oot o' the neigh- 
bours. Let mother give me my money oot o' the farm 
I'd go to Froswick fast enough. That's the place to get 
on. I've got friends -I'd work up in no time.' 

Laura glanced at him. She said nothing. 

' You doan't think I would ? ' he asked her angrily, 
pausing in his handling of the harness to throw back the 
challenge of her manner. His wrath seemed to have 
made him handsomer, better-braced, more alive. Physi- 
cally she admired him for the first time, as he stood 
confronting her. 

But she only lifted her eyebrows a little. . 

' I thought one had to have a particular kind of brains 
for business and begin early, too ? ' 

' I could learn,' he said gruffly, after which they were 
both silent till the harnessing was done. 


Then he looked up. 

' I'd like to drive you to the bridge if you're agree- 

' Oh, don't trouble yourself, pray ! ' she said in polite 

His brows knit again. 
; 'J know how 'tis you won't come here again.' 

Her little face changed. 

' I'd like to,' she said, her voice wavering, ' because 
papa used to stay here.' 

He stared at her. 

' I do remember Cousin Stephen,' he said at last, 
' though I towd you I didn't. I can see him standing at 
the door there wi' a big hat an a beard like straw an 
a check coat wi' great bulgin pockets.' 

He stopped in amazement, seeing the sudden beauty 
of her eyes and cheeks. 

' That's it,' she said, leaning towards him. ' Oh, that's 
it ! ' She closed her eyes a moment, her small lips 
trembling. Then she opened them with a long breath : 

' Yes, you may drive me to the bridge if you like.' 

And on the drive she was another being. She talked 
to him about music, so softly and kindly that the young 
man's head swam with pleasure. All her own musical 
enthusiasms and experiences the music in the college 
chapels, the music at the Greek plays, the few London 
concerts and operas she had heard, her teachers and her 
hero-worships she drew upon it all in her round light 
voice, he joining in from time to time with a rough passion 
and yearning that seemed to transfigure him. In half an 
hour, as it were, they were friends; their relations 
changed wholly. He looked at her with all his eyes ; 
hung upon her with all his ears. And she she forgot 
that he was vulgar and a clown ; such breathless pleasure, 


such a humble absorption in superior wisdom, would have 
blunted the sternest standard. 

As for him, the minutes flew. When at last the 
bridge over the Bannisdale Eiver came in sight, he began 
to check the pony. 

'Let's drive on a bit,' he said entreatingly. 

' No, no I must get back to Mrs. Fountain.' And 
she took the reins from his hands. 

' I say, when will you come again ? ' 

1 Oh, I don't know.' She had put on once more the 
stand-off town-bred manner that puzzled his country- 
man's sense. 

' I say, mother shan't talk that stuff to you next time. 

I'll tell her ' he said imploringly. ' Halloa ! let me 

out, will you ? ' 

And to her amazement, before she could draw in the 
pony, he had jumped out of the cart. 

' There's Mr. Helbeck ! ' he said to her with a crimson 
face. ' I'm off. Good-bye ! ' 

He shook her hand hastily, turned his back, and strode 

She looked towards the gate in some bewilderment, 
and saw that Helbeck was holding it open for her. 
Beside him stood a tall priest not Father Bowles. It 
was evident that both of them had seen her parting from 
her cousin. 

Well, what then? What was there in that, or in 
Mr. Helbeck's ceremonious greeting to make her cheeks 
hot all in a moment ? She could have beaten herself for 
a silly lack of self-possession. Still more could she have 
beaten Hubert for his clownish and hurried departure. 
What was he afraid of ? Did he think that she would 
have shown the smallest shame of her peasant relations ? 


' Is that Mrs. Fountain's stepdaughter ? ' said Helbeck's 
companion, as Laura and her cart disappeared round a 
corner of the winding road on which the two men were 

Helbeck made a sign of assent. 

'You may very possibly have known her father?' 
He named the Cambridge college of which Stephen 
Fountain had been a FeUow. 

The Jesuit, who was a convert, and had been a dis- 
tinguished Cambridge man, considered for a moment. / 

'Ohl yes I remember the man! A strange being, 
who was only heard of, if I recollect right, in times of 
war. If there was any dispute going especially on a 
religious point Stephen Fountain would rush into it 
with broad-sheets. Oh yes, I remember him perfectly 
a great untidy, fair-haired, truculent fellow, to whom any- 
body that took any thought for his soul was either fool or 
knave. How much of him does the daughter inherit ? ' 

Helbeck returned the other's smile. ' A large slice, I 
think. She comes here in the curious position of having 
never lived in a Christian household before, and she seems 
already to have great difficulty in putting up with us.' 

Father Leadham laughed, then looked reflective. 

' How often have I known that the best of all possible 
beginnings ! Is she attached to her stepmother ? ' 

' Yes. But Mrs. Fountain has no influence over her.' 


: It is a striking colouring that white skin and reddish 
hair. And it is a face of some power, too.' 

' Power ? ' Helbeck demurred. ' I think she is clever,' 
he said, dryly. ' And, of course, coming from a university 
town, she has heard of things that other girls know 
nothing of. But she has had no training, moral or 

' And no Christian education ? ' 

Helbeck shrugged his shoulders. 

' She was only baptised with difficulty. When she was 
eleven or twelve she was allowed to go to church two or 
three times, I understand, on the helot principle was soon 
disgusted her father of course supplying a running 
comment at home and she has stood absolutely outside 
religion of all kinds since.' 

' Poor child ! ' said the priest with heartiness. The 
paternal note in the words was more than official. He 
was a widower, and had lost his wife and infant daughter 
two years before his entrance into the Church of Eome. 

Helbeck smiled. ' I assure you Miss Fountain spends 
none of her pity upon herself ! ' 

' I dare say more than you think. The position of the 
unbeliever in a house like yours is always a painful one. 
You see, she is alone. There must be a sense of exile of 
something touching and profound going on beside her, 
from which she is excluded. She comes into a house 
with a chapel, where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, 
where everybody is keeping a strict Lent. She has not a 
single thought in common with you all. No ; I am very 
sorry for Miss Fountain.' 

Helbeck was silent a moment. His dark face showed 
a shade of disturbance. 

' She has some relations near here,' he said at last, 
' but unfortunately I can't do much to promote her seeing 
them. You remember Williams's story ? ' 


1 Of course. You had some local row, didn't you ? 
Ah ! I remember.' 

And the two men walked on, discussing a case which 
had been and was still of great interest to them as 
Catholics. The hero, moreover the Jesuit novice himself 
was well known to them both. 

' So Miss Fountain's relations belong to that peasant 
class ? ' said the Jesuit, musing. ' How curious that she 
should find herself in such a double relation to you and 
Bannisdale ! ' 

' Consider me a little, if you please,' said Helbeck, with 
his slight, rare smile. ' While that young lady is under 
my roof you see how attractive she is I cannot get 
rid, you will admit, of a certain responsibility. Augustina 
has neither the will nor the authority of a mother, and 
there is literally no one else. Now there happens to be a 
young man in this Mason family ' 

1 Ah ! ' said the priest ; ' the young gentleman who 
jumped out at the bridge, with such a very light pair of 

Helbeck nodded. ' The old people were peasants and 
fanatics. They thought ill of me in the Williams affair, 
and the mother, who is still alive, would gladly hang 
and quarter me to-morrow if she could. But that is 
another point. The old people had their own dignity, 
their own manners and virtues or, rather, the manners 
and virtues of their class. The old man was coarse and 
boorish, but he was hard-working and honourable, and a 
Christian after his own sort. But the old man is dead, 
and the son, who now works the farm jointly with his 
mother, is of no class and no character. He has just 
education enough to despise his father and his father's 
hard work. He talks the dialect with his inferiors, or his 
kindred, and drops it with you and me. The old traditions 
have no hold upon him, and he is just a vulgar and rather 


vicious hybrid, who drinks more than is good for him and 
has a natural affinity for any sort of low love-affair. I came 
across him at our last hunt ball. I never go to such things, 
but last year I went.' 

' Good ! ' ejaculated the Jesuit, turning a friendly face 
upon the speaker. 

Helbeck paused. The word, still more the emphasis 
with which it was thrown out, challenged him. He was 
about to defend himself against an implied charge, but 
thought better of it, and resumed : 

' And unfortunately, considering the way in which all 
the clan felt towards me already, I found this youth in 
the supper-room, misbehaving himself with a girl of his 
own sort, and very drunk. I fetched a steward, and he was 
told to go. After which, you may imagine that it is scarcely 
agreeable to me to see my guest a very young lady, very 
pretty, very distinguished driving about the country in 
cousinly relations with this creature ! ' 

The last words were spoken with considerable vivacity. 
The aristocrat and the ascetic, the man of high family 
and the man of scrupulous and fastidious character, were 
alike expressed in them. 

The Jesuit pondered a little. 

' No ; you will have to keep watch. Why not distract 
her ? You must have plenty of other neighbours to show 

Helbeck shook his head. 

' I li ve like a hermit. My sister is in the first year of 
her widowhood and very delicate.' 

' I see.' The Jesuit hesitated, then said, smiling, in 
the tone of one who makes a venture : ' The Bishop and 
I allowed ourselves to discuss these cloistered ways of 
yours the other day. We thought you would forgive us 
as a pair of old friends.' 

' I know," was the somewhat quick interruption, ' the 


Bishop is of Manning's temper in these things. He believes 
in acting on and with the Protestant world in our claim- 
ing prominence as citizens. It was to please him that I 
joined one or two committees last year that I went to 
the hunt ball ' 

Then, suddenly, hi a very characteristic way, Helbeck 
checked his own flow of speech, and resumed more quietly : 
' Well, all that ' 

'Leaves you of the same opinion still?' said the 
Jesuit, smiling. 

'Precisely. I don't belong to my neighbours, nor 
they to me. We don't speak the same language, and I 
can't bring myself to speak theirs. The old conditions 
are gone, I know. But my feeling remains pretty much 
what that of my forefathers was. I recognise that it is 
not common nowadays but I have the old maxim in 
my blood : " Extra ecclesiam nulla salus." ' 

' There is none which has done us more deadly harm in 
England/ cried the Jesuit. ' We forget that England is a 
baptised nation, and is therefore in the supernatural state.' 

' I remind myself of it very often,' said Helbeck, with 
a kind of proud submission ; ' and I judge no man. But 
my powers, my time, are all limited. I prefer to devote 
them to the " household of faith." ' 

The two men walked on in silence for a time. 
Presently Father Leadham's face showed amusement, and 
he said : 

1 Certainly we modern converts have a better time of 
it than our predecessors ! The Bishop tells me the most 
incredible things about the old feeling towards them in 
this Vicariate. And wherever I go I seem to hear the 
tale of the old priest who thanked God that he had never 
received anyone into the Church. Everybody has met 
some one who knew that old fellow ! He may be a myth 
but there is clearly history at the back of him 1 ' 



' I understand him perfectly/ said Helbeck, smiling ; 
and he added immediately, with a curious intensity, ' I, 
too, have never influenced, never tried to influence, any- 
one in my life.' 

The priest looked at him, wondering. 

'Not Williams?' 

' Williams ! But Williams was born for the faith. 
Directly he saw what I wanted to do in the chapel, he 
prayed to 'come and help me. It was his summer 
holiday he neglected no duty ; it was wonderful to see 
his happiness in the work as I thought, an artistic 
happiness only. He used to ask me questions about the 
different saints ; once or twice he borrowed a book it was 
necessary to get the emblems correct. But I never said 
a single controversial word to him. I never debated 
religious subjects with him at all, till the night when he 
took refuge with me after his father had thrashed him 
so cruelly that he could not stand. Grace taught him, 
not I.' 

' Grace taught him, but through you,' said the priest 
with quiet emphasis. ' Perhaps I know more about that 
than you do.' 

Helbeck flushed. 

' I think you are mistaken. At any rate, I should 
prefer that you were mistaken.' 

The priest raised his eyebrows. 

' A man who holds " no salvation outside the Church," ' 
he said slowly, ' and rejoices in the thought that he has 
never influenced anybody ? ' 

' I should hope little from the work achieved by such 
an instrument. Some men have enough to do with their 
own souls,' was the low but vehement answer. 

The priest threw a wondering glance at his companion, 
at the signs of feeling profound and morbid feeling on 
the harsh face beside him* 


' Perhaps you have never cared enough for anyone 
outside to wish passionately to bring them within,' he 
said. 'But if that ever happens to you, you will be 
ready I think you will be ready to use any tool, even 

The priest's voice changed a little. Helbeck, some- 
what stai*tled, recalled the facts of Father Leadham's per- 
sonal history, and thought he understood. The subject 
was instantly dropped, and the two men walked on to 
the house, discussing a great canonisation service at St. 
Peter's, and the Pope's personal part in it. 

The old Hall, as Helbeck and Father Leadham 
approached it, looked down upon a scene of animation to 
which in these latter days it was but little accustomed. 
The green spaces and gravelled walks in front of it 
were sprinkled with groups of children hi a blue-and- 
white uniform. Three or four Sisters of Mercy in their 
winged white caps moved about among them, and some 
of the children hung clustered like bees about the Sisters' 
skirts, while others ran here and there, gleefully pick- 
ing the scattered daffodils that starred the grass. 

The invaders came from the Orphanage of St. Ursula, 
a house founded by Mr. Helbeck's exertions, which lay 
halfway between Bannisdale and Whinthorpe. They had 
not long arrived, and were now waiting for Eosary and 
Benediction in the chapel before they were admitted 
to the tea which Mrs. Denton and Augustina had already 
spread for them in the big hall. 

At sight of the children Helbeck's face lit up and his 
step quickened. They on their side ran to him from all 
parts ; and he had hardly time to greet the Sisters in 
charge of them, before the eager creatures were pulling 
him into the walled garden behind the Hall, one small 
girl hanging on his hand, another, perched upon his 



shoulder. Father Leadham went into the house to prepare 
for the service. 

The garden was old and dark, like the Tudor house 
that stood between it and the sun. Bows of fantastic 
shapes carved in living yew and box stood ranged along 
the straight walks. A bowling-green enclosed in high 
beech hedges was placed in the exact centre of the whole 
formal place, while the walks and alleys from three sides, 
west, north, and south, converged upon it, according to a 
plan unaltered since it was first laid down in the days of 
James II. At this time of the year there were no flowers 
in the stiff flower-beds ; for Mr. Helbeck had long ceased 
to spend any but the most necessary moneys upon his 
garden. Only upon the high stone walls that begirt this 
strange and melancholy pleasure-ground, and in the 
1 wilderness ' that lay on the eastern side, between the 
garden and the fell, were Nature and the spring allowed 
to show themselves. Their joint magic had covered the 
old walls with fruit blossom and spread the ' wilderness ' 
with daffodils. Otherwise all was dark, tortured, fan- 
tastic, a monument of old-world caprice that the heart 
could not love, though piety might not destroy it. 

The children, however, brought life and brightness. 
They chased each other up and down the paths, and in 
and out of the bowling-green. Helbeck set them to 
games, and played with them himself. Only for the 
orphans now did he ever thus recall his youth. 

Two Sisters, one comparatively young, the other a 
woman of fifty, stood in an opening of the bowling-green, 
looking at the games. 

The younger one said to her companion, who was the 
Superior of the Orphanage, ' I do like to see Mr. Helbeck 
with the children ! It seems to change him altogether.' 

She spoke with eager sympathy, while her eyes, the 
visionary eyes of the typical religious, sunk in a face 


that was at once sweet and peevish, followed the children 
and their host. 

The other shrewd-faced and large had a movement 
of impatience. 

' I should like to see Mr. Helbeck with some children 
of his own. For five years now I have prayed our 
Blessed Mother to give him a good wife. That's what 
he wants. Ah ! Mrs. Fountain ' 

And as Augustina advanced with her little languid 
ah*, accompanied by her stepdaughter, the Sisters 
gathered round her, chattering and cooing, showing her 
a hundred attentions, enveloping her in a homage that 
was partly addressed to the sister of their benefactor, and 
partly as she well understood to the sheep that had 
been lost and was found. To the stepdaughter they 
showed a courteous reserve. One or two of them had 
already made acquaintance with her, and had not found 
her amiable. 

And, indeed, Laura held herself aloof, as before. 
But she shot a glance of curiosity at the elderly woman 
who had wished Mr. Helbeck a good wife. The girl had 
caught the remark as she and her stepmother turned the 
corner of the dense beechen hedge that, with openings to 
each point of the compass, enclosed the bowling-green. 

Presently Helbeck, stopping to take breath in a game 
of which he had been the life, caught sight of the slim 
figure against the red-brown of the hedge. The next 
moment he perceived that Miss Fountain was watching 
him with an expression of astonishment. 

His first instinct was to let her be. Her manner 
towards him since her arrival, with hardly a break, had 
been such as to chill the most sociable temper. And 
Helbeck's temper was far from sociable. 

But something in her attitude perhaps its solitariness 
made him uncomfortable. He went up to her, dragging 


with him a crowd of small children, who tugged at his 
coat and hands. 

' Miss Fountain, will you take pity on us ? My breath 
is gone.' 

He saw her hesitate. Then her sudden smile broke 

' What'll you have ? ' she said, catching hold of the 
nearest child. ' Mother Bunch ? ' 

And off she flew, running, twisting, turning with the 
merriest of them, her loosened hair gleaming in the sun, 
her small feet twinkling. Now it was Helbeck's turn to 
stand and watch. What a curious grace and purpose 
there was in all her movements ! Even in her play Miss 
Fountain was a personality. 

At last a little girl who was running with her began 
to drag and turn pale. Laura stopped to look at her. 

' I can't run any more,' said the child, piteously. ' I 
had a bone took out of my leg last year.' 

She was a sickly-looking creature, rickety and con- 
sumptive, a waif from a Liverpool slum. Laura picked 
her up and carried her to a seat in a yew arbour away 
from the games. Then the child studied her with shy- 
looking eyes, and suddenly slipped an arm like a bit of 
stick round the pretty lady's neck. 

' Teh 1 me a story, please, teacher,' she said, imploringly. 

Laura was taken aback, for she had forgotten the tales 
of her own childhood, and had never possessed any 
younger brothers or sisters, or paid much attention to 
children in general. But with some difficulty she 
stumbled through Cinderella. 

' Oh, yes, I know that ; but it's lovely,' said the child, 
at the end, with a sigh of content. ' Now I'll tell you 

And in a high nasal voice, like one repeating a lesson 
in class, she began upon something which Laura soon 

discovered to be the life of a saint. She followed the 
phrases of it with a growing repugnance, till at last the 
speaker said, with the unction of one sure of her 
audience : 

'And once the good Father went to a hospital to 
visit some sick people. And as he was hearing a poor 
sailor's confession, he found out that it was his own 
brother, whom he had not seen for a long, long time. 
Now the sailor was very ill, and going to die, and he had 
been a bad man, and done a great many wicked things. 
But the good Father did not let the poor man know 
who he was. He went home and told his Superior that 
he had found his brother. And the Superior forbade him 
to go and see his brother again, because, he said, God 
would take care of him. And the Father was very sad, 
and the devil tempted him sorely. But he prayed to 
God, and God helped him to be obedient. 

' And a great many years afterwards a poor woman 
came to see the good Father. And she told him she 
had seen our Blessed Lady in a vision. And our 
Blessed Lady had sent her to tell the Father that because 
he had been so obedient, and had not been to see his 
brother again, our Lady had prayed our Lord for his 
brother. And his brother had made a good death, and 
was saved, all because the good Father had obeyed 
what his Superior told him.' 

Laura sprang up. The child, who had expected a 
kiss and a pious phrase, looked up, startled. 

' Wasn't that a pretty story ? ' she said, timidly. 

' No ; I don't like it at all,' said Miss Fountain, 
decidedly. ' I wonder they tell you such tales ! ' 

The child stared at her for a moment. Then a 
sudden veil fell across the clearness of her eyes, which 
had the preternatural size and brilliance of disease. 
Her expression changed. It became the slyness of the 


watching animal, that feels the enemy. She said not 
another word. 

Laura felt a pang of shame, even though she was still 
vibrating with the repulsion the child's story had excited 
in her. 

' Look ! ' she said, raising the little one in her arms ; 
'the others are all going into the house. Shall we go 

But the child struggled resolutely. 

' Let me get down. I can walk.' Laura set her down, 
and the child walked as fast as her lame leg would let 
her to join the others. Once or twice she looked 
round furtively at her companion ; but she would not 
take the hand Laura offered her, and she seemed to have 
wholly lost her tongue. 

' Little bigot ! ' thought Laura, half angry, half 
amused ; ' do they catch it from their cradle ? ' 

Presently they found themselves in the tail of a 
crowd of children and Sisters who were ascending the 
stairs of a doorway opening on the garden. The door- 
way led, as Laura knew, to the corridor of the chapel. 
She let herself be carried along, irresolute, and presently 
she found herself within the curtained doorway, mechani- 
cally helping the Sisters and Augustina to put the children 
in their places. 

One or two of the older children noticed that the 
young lady with Mrs. Fountain did not sign herself 
with holy water, and did not genuflect in passing the 
altar, and they looked at her with a stealthy surprise. A 
gentle-looking young Sister came up to her as she was 
lifting a very small child to a seat. 

' Thank you/ murmured the Sister. ' It is very good 
of you.' But the voice, though so soft, was cold, and 
Laura at once felt herself the intruder, and withdrew to 
the back of the crowd. 


Yet again, as at her first visit to the chapel, so now, 
she was too curious, for all her soreness, to go. She 
must see what they would be at. 

' Eosary ' passed, and she hardly understood a word. 
The voice of the Jesuit intoning suggested nothing 
intelligible to her, and it was some time before she could 
even make out what the children were saying in their loud- 
voiced responses. ' Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for 
us sinners, now and at the hour of our death ' was that it ? 
And occasionally an ' Our Father ' thrown in all of it 
gabbled as fast as possible, as though the one object of 
both priest and people were to get through and make an 
end. Over and over again, without an inflection, or a 
change with just the one monotonous repetition and 
the equally monotonous variation. What a barbarous 
and foolish business ! 

Very soon she gave up listening. Her eyes wandered 
to the frescoes, to the bare altar with its purple covering, 
to the tall candles sparkling before the tabernacle ; and 
the coloured and scented gloom, pierced with the distant 
lights, gave her a vague pleasure. 

Presently there was a pause. The children settled 
themselves in their seats with a little clatter. Father 
Leadham retired, while the Sisters knelt, each bowed pro- 
foundly on herself, eyes closed under her coif, hands 
clasped in front of her. 

What were they waiting for ? Ah 1 there was the 
priest again, but in a changed dress a white cope of 
some splendour. The organ, played by one of the 
Sisters, broke out upon the silence, and the voices of the 
rest rose suddenly, small and sweet, in a Latin hymn. 
The priest went to the tabernacle, and set it open. 
There was a swinging of incense, and the waves of 
fragrant smoke flowed out upon the chapel, dimming 


the altar and the figure before it. Laura caught sight for 
a moment of the young Sister who had spoken to her. 
She was kneeling, and singing with sweet, shut eyes ; it 
was clear that she was possessed by a fervour of feeling. 
Miss Fountain thought to herself, with wonder, ' She 
cannot be much older than I am ! ' 

After the hymn it was the children's turn. What were 
they singing so lustily to so dancing a tune ? Laura bent 
over to look at the book of a Sister in front of her. 

'Virgo prudentissima, Virgo veneranda, Virgo prae- 
dicanda ' 

With difficulty she found the place in another book 
that lay upon a chair beside her. Then for a few minutes 
she lost herself in a first amazement over that string of 
epithets and adjectives with which the Catholic Church 
throughout the world celebrates day by day and Sunday 
after Sunday the glories of Mary. The gay music, the 
harsh and eager voices of the children, flowed on, the 
waves of incense spread throughout the chapel. When 
she raised her eyes they fell upon Helbeck's dark head in 
the far distance, above his server's cotta. A quick change 
crossed her face, transforming it to a passionate contempt. 

But of her no one thought save once. The beautiful 
* moment ' of the ceremony had come. Father Leadham 
had raised the monstrance, containing the Host, to give 
the Benediction. Every Sister, every child, except a few 
small and tired ones, was bowed in humblest adoration. 

Mr. Helbeck, too, was kneeling in the little choir. But 
his attention wandered. With the exception of his walk 
with Father Leadham, he had been in church since early 
morning, and even for him response was temporarily ex- 
hausted. His look strayed over the chapel. 

It was suddenly arrested. Above the kneeling congre- 
gation a distant face showed plainly in the April dusk 


amid the dimness of incense and painting a girl's face, 
delicately white and set a face of revolt. 

' Why is she here ? ' was his first thought. It came 
with a rush of annoyance, even resentment. But imme- 
diately other thoughts met it : ' She is lonely ; she is here 
under my roof ; she has lost her father ; poor child ! ' 

The last mental phrase was not so much his own as an 
echo from Father Leadham. In Helbeck's mind it was 
spoken very much as the priest had spoken it with that 
strange tenderness, at once so intimate and so impersonal, 
which belongs to the spiritual relations of Catholicism. 
The girl's soul lonely, hostile, uncared for appealed to 
the charity of the believer. At the same time there was 
something in her defiance, her crude disapproval of his 
house and his faith, that stimulated and challenged the 
man. Conscious for the first time of a new conflict of 
feeling within himself, he looked steadily towards her 
across the darkness. 

It was as though he had sought and found a way to lift 
himself above her young pride, her ignorant enmity. For a 
moment there was a curious exaltation and tyranny in his 
thought. He dropped his head and prayed for her, the 
words falling slow and deliberate within his consciousness. 
And she could not resent it or stop it. It was an aggres- 
sion before which she was helpless ; it struck down the 
protest of her pale look. 

At supper, when the Sisters and their charges had 
departed, Father Bowles appeared, and never before had 
Helbeck been so lamentably aware of the absurdities and 
inferiorities of his parish priest. 

The Jesuit, too, was sharply conscious of them, and 
even Augustina felt that something was amiss. Was it 
that they were all except Father Bowles affected by the 
presence of the young lady on Helbeck's right by the cool 


detachment of her manner, the self-possession that 
appealed to no one and claimed none of the prerogatives of 
sex and charm, while every now and then it made itself 
felt in tacit and resolute opposition to her environment ? 

' He might leave those things alone ! ' thought the 
Jesuit, angrily, as he heard Father Bowles giving Mrs. 
Fountain a gently complacent account of a geological 
lecture lately delivered hi Whinthorpe. 

' What I always say, you know, my dear lady, is this : 
you must show me the evidence ! After all, you geologists 
have done much you have dug here and there, it is true. 
But dig all over the world dig everywhere lay it all 
bare. Then you may ask me to listen to you ! ' 

The little round-faced priest looked round the table for 
support. Laura bit her lip and bent over her plate. 
Father Leadham turned hastily to Helbeck, and began to 
discuss with him a recent monograph on the Eoman Wall, 
showing a plentiful and scholarly knowledge of the subject. 
And presently he drew in the girl opposite, addressing her 
with a man-of-the-world ease and urbanity which dis- 
armed her. It appeared that he had just come back from 
mission- work in British Guiana, that he had been in India, 
and was in all respects a travelled and accomplished 
person. But the girl did not yield herself, though she 
listened quite civilly and attentively while he talked. 

But again through the Jesuit's easy or polished phrases 
there broke the purring inanity of Father Bowles. 

' Lourdes, my dear lady ? Lourdes ? How can there 
be the smallest doubt of the miracles of Lourdes ? Why ! 
they keep two doctors on the spot to verify everything ! ' 

The Jesuit's sense of humour was uncomfortably 
touched. He glanced at Miss Fountain, but could only 
see that she was gazing steadily out of window. 

As for himself, convert and ex-Fellow of a well-known 
college, he gave a strong inward assent to the judgment 



of some of his own leaders, that the older Catholic priests of 

this country are as a rule lamentably unfit for their work. 
' Our chance in England is broadening every year,' he 
said to himself. ' How are we to seize it with such tools ? 
But all round we want men. Oh ! for a few more of those 
who were " out in forty-five " 1 ' 

In the drawing-room after dinner Laura, as usual, 
entrenched herself in one of the deep oriel windows, 
behind a heavy table. Augustina showed an anxious 
curiosity as to the expedition of the morning as to the 
Masons and their farm. But Laura would say very little 
about them. 

When the gentlemen came in, Helbeck sent a searching 
look round the drawing-room. He had the air of one 
who enters with a purpose. 

The beautiful old room lay in a half-light. A lamp 
at either end could do but little against the shadows that 
seemed to radiate from the panelled walls and from the 
deep red hangings of the windows. But the wood fire on 
the hearth sent out a soft glow, which fastened on the few 
points of brilliance in the darkness on the ivory of the 
fretted ceiling, on the dazzling dress of the Eomney, on 
the gold of Miss Fountain's hair. 

Laura looked up with some surprise as Helbeck 
approached her ; then, seeing that he apparently wished 
to talk, she made a place for him among the old ' Books 
of Beauty ' with which she had been bestrewing the seat 
that ran round the window. 

' I trust the pony behaved himself this morning ? ' he 
said, as he sat down. 

Laura answered politely. 

' And you found your way without difficulty ? ' 

1 Oh yes ! Your directions were exact.' 

Inwardly she said to herself, ' Does he want to cross- 

examine me about the Masons?' Then, suddenly, she 
noticed the scar under his hair a jagged mark, testifying 
to a wound of some severity and it made her uncom- 
fortable. Nay, it seemed in some curious way to put 
her in the wrong, to shake her self-reliance. 

But Helbeck had not come with the intention of talking 
about the Masons. His avoidance of their name was 
indeed a pointed one. He drew out her admiration of 
the daffodils and of the view from Browhead Lane. 

' After Easter we must show you something of the high 
mountains. Augustina tells me you admire the country. 
The head of Windermere will delight you.' 

His manner of offering her these civilities was some- 
what stiff and conventional the manner of one who had 
been brought up among country gentry of the old school, 
apart from London and the beau monde. But it struck 
Laura that, for the first time, he was speaking to her as a 
man of his breeding might be expected to speak to a lady 
visiting his house. There was consideration, and an 
apparent desire to please. It was as though she had 
grown all at once into something more in his eyes than 
Mrs. Fountain's little stepdaughter, who was, no doubt, 
useful as a nurse and a companion, but radically unwel- 
come and insignificant none the less. 

Inevitably the girl's vanity was soothed. She began 
to answer more naturally; her smile became more 
frequent. And gradually an unwonted ease and enjoyment 
stole over Helbeck also. He talked with so much anima- 
tion at last as to draw the attention of another person in 
the room. Father Leadham, who had been leaning with 
some languor against the high, carved mantel, while 
Father Bowles and Augustina babbled beneath him, began 
to take increasing notice of Miss Fountain, and of her 
relation to the Bannisdale household. For a girl who had 
'no training, moral or intellectual,' she was showing her- 


self, he thought, possessed of more attraction than might 
have been expected, for the strict master of the house. 

Presently Helbeck came to a pause in what he was 
saying. He had been describing the country of Words- 
worth, and had been dwelling on Grasmere and Eydal 
Mount, in the tone, indeed, of one who had no vital concern 
whatever with the Lake poets or their poetry, but still 
with an evident desire to interest his companion. And 
following closely on this first effort to make friends with 
her something further suggested itself. 

He hesitated, looked at Laura, and at last said, in a 
lower voice than he had been using, ' I believe your father, 
Miss Fountain, was'a great lover of Wordsworth. Augustina 
has told me so. You and he were accustomed, were you 
not, to read much together ? Your loss must be very great. 
You will not wonder, perhaps, that for me there are 
painful thoughts connected with your father. But I have 
not been insensible I have not been without feeling for 
my sister and for you.' 

He spoke with embarrassment, and a kind of appeal. 
Laura had been startled by his first words, and while he 
spoke she sat very pale and upright, staring at him. The 
hand on her lap shook. 

When he ceased she did not answer. She turned her 
head, and he saw her pretty throat tremble. Then she 
hastily raised her handkerchief; a struggle passed over 
the face ; she wiped away her tears, and threw back her 
head, with a sobbing breath and a little shake of the bright 
hair, like one who reproves herself. But she said nothing ; 
and it was evident that she could say nothing without 
breaking down. 

Deeply touched, Helbeck unconsciously drew a little 
nearer to her. Changing the subject at once, he began to 
talk to her of the children and the little festival of the 
afternoon. An hour before he would have instinctively 


avoided doing anything of the kind. Now, at last, he 
ventured to be himself, or something near it. Laura 
regained her composure, and bent her attention upon 
him, with a slightly frowning brow. Her mind was 
divided between the most contradictory impulses and 
attractions. How had it come about, she asked herself, 
after a while, that she was listening like this to his 
schemes for his children and his new orphanage? she, 
and not his natural audience, the two priests and Augus- 

She actually heard him describe the efforts made by 
himself and one or two other Catholics in the county to 
provide shelter and education for the county's Catholic 
orphans. He dwelt on the death and disappearance of 
some of his earlier colleagues, on the urgent need for 
a new building in the neighbourhood of the county town, 
and for the enlargement of the ' home ' he himself had 
put up some ten years before, on the Whinthorpe Eoad. 

' But, unfortunately, large plans want large means,' 
he added, with a smile, ' and I fear it will come to it 
Has Augustina said anything to you about it? I fear 
there is nothing for it, but that our beauteous lady there 
must provide them.' 

He nodded towards the picture that gleamed from the 
opposite wall. Then he added gravely, and with a perfect 
simplicity : 

' It is my last possession of any value.' 

Several times during the fortnight that she had known 
him, Laura had heard him speak with a similar simplicity 
about his personal and pecuniary affairs. That anyone 
so stately should treat himself and his own worldly con- 
cerns with so much na/iveU had been a source of frequent 
surprise to her. To what, then, did his dignity, his reserve 

Nevertheless, because, childishly, she had already 


taken a side, as it were, about the picture, his manner, 
with its apparent indifference, annoyed her. She drew 

'Yes, Augustina told me. But isn't it cruel? isn't 
it unkind ? A picture like that is alive. It has been here 
so long one could hardly feel it belonged only to oneself. 
It is part of the house, isn't it? part of the family? 
Won't other people people who come after reproach 
you? ' 

Helbeck lifted his shoulders, his dark face half amused, 
half sad. 

1 She died a hundred years ago, pretty creature ! She 
has had her turn ; so have we in the pleasure of looking 
at her.' 

' But she belongs to you,' said the girl, insistently. 
' She is your own kith and kin.' 

He hesitated, then said, with a new emphasis that 
answered her own : 

' Perhaps there are two sorts of kindred ' 

The girl's cheek flushed. 

' And the one you mean may always push out the 
other ? I know, because one of your children told me 
a story to-day such a frightful story ! of a saint who 
would not go to see his dying brother, for obedience' 
sake. She asked me if I liked it. How could I say I liked 
it ! I told her it was horrible ! I wondered how people 
could tell her such tales.' 

Her bearing was again all hostility a young defiance. 
She was delighted to confess herself. Her crime, untold, 
had been pressing upon her conscience, hurting her 
natural frankness. 

Helbeck's face changed. He looked at her attentively, 
the fine dark eye, under the commanding brow, straight 
and sparkling. 

' You said that to the child ? ' 




Her breast fluttered. She trembled, he saw, with an 
excitement she could hardly repress. 

He, too, felt a novel excitement the excitement of a 
strong will provoked. It was clear to him that she 
meant to provoke him that her young personality threw 
itself wantonly across his own. He spoke with a harsh 
directness : 

' You did wrong, I think quite wrong. Excuse the 
word, but you have brought me to close quarters. You 
sowed the seeds of doubt, of revolt, in a child's mind.' 

' Perhaps,' said Laura quickly. ' What then ? ' 

She wore her half-wild, half-mocking look. Every- 
thing soft and touching had disappeared. The eyes 
shone under the golden mass of hair ; the small mouth 
was close and scornful. Helbeck looked at her in amaze- 
ment, his own pulse hurrying. 

' What then ? ' he echoed, with a sternness that 
astonished himself. ' Ask your own feeling. What has a 
child a little child under orders to do with doubt, or 
revolt ? For her for all of us doubt is misery.' 

Laura rose. She forced down her agitation made 
herself speak plainly. 

' Papa taught me it was life and I believe him.' 

The old clock in the farther corner of the room struck 
a quarter to ten the hour of prayers. The two priests on 
the farther side of the room stood up, and Augustina 
sheathed her knitting-needles. 

Laura turned towards Helbeck and coldly held out her 
little hand. He touched it, and she crossed the room. 
' Good-night, Augustina.' 

She kissed her stepmother, and bowed to the two 
priests. Father Leadham ceremoniously opened the door 
for her. Then he and Helbeck, Father Bowles and 
Augustina followed across the dark hall on their way to 


the chapel. Laura took her candle, and her light figure 
could be seen ascending the Jacobean staircase, a slim 
and charming vision against the shadows of the old 

Father Leadham followed it with eyes and thoughts. 
Then he glanced towards Helbeck. An idea and one 
that was singularly unwelcome was forcing its way into 
the priest's mind. 




FROM that night onwards the relations between Helbeck 
and his sister's stepdaughter took another tone. He no 
longer went his own way, with no more than a vague 
consciousness that a curious and difficult girl was in the 
house; he watched her with increasing interest; he 
began to taste, as it were, the thorny charm that was her 
peculiar possession. 

Not that he was allowed to see much of the charm. 
After the conversation of Passion Sunday her manner to 
him was no less cold and distant than before. Their 
final collision, on the subject of the child, had, he 
supposed, undone the effects of his conciliatory words 
about her father. It must be so, no doubt, since her 
hostile observation of him and of his friends seemed to 
be in no whit softened. 

That he should be so often conscious of her at this 
particular time annoyed and troubled him. It was the 
most sacred moment of the Catholic year. JEaihar 
Trf>fl.(jWp, his old Sfrpnylirirot. frio^i i^ come to spend 
Passion Week and Holy Week at Bannisdale, as a special 
favour to one whom the Church justly numbered among 
the most faithful of her sons ; while the Society of Jesus 
had many links of mutual service and affection, both with 
the Helbeck family in the past and with the present 


owner of the Hall. Helbeck, indeed, was of real impor- 
tance to Catholicism in this particular district of England. 
It had once abounded in Catholic families, but now hardly 
one of them remained, and upon Helbeck, with his small 
resources and dwindling estate, devolved a number of 
labours which should have been portioned out among a 
large circle. Only enthusiasm such as his could have 
sufficed for the task. But, for the Church's sake, he had 
now remained unmarried some fifteen years. He lived 
like an ascetic in the great house, with a couple of women- 
servants ; he spent all his income except a fraction on 
the good works of a wide district; when larger sums 
were necessary he was ready, nay, eager, to sell the land 
necessary to provide them ; and whenever he journeyed 
to other parts of England, or to the Continent, it was 
generally assumed that he had gone, not as other men go, 
for pleasure and recreation, but simply that he might 
pursue some Catholic end, either of money or administra- 
tion, among the rich and powerful of the faith elsewhere. 
Meanwhile, it was believed that he had bequeathed the 
house and park of Bannisdale to a distant cousin, also a 
strict Catholic, with the warning that not much else 
would remain to his heir from the ancient and splendid 
inheritance of the family. 

It was not wonderful, then, that the Jesuits should be 
glad to do such a man a service ; and no service could 
have been greater in Helbeck's eyes than a visit from a 
priest of their order during these weeks of emotion and 
of penance. Every day Mass was said in the little 
chapel ; every evening a small flock gathered to Litany 
or Benediction. Ordinary life went on as it could in 
the intervals of prayer and meditation. The house 
swarmed with priests with old and infirm priests, 
many of them from a Jesuit house of retreat on the 
western coast, not far away, who found in a visit to 


Bannisdale one of the chief pleasures of their suffering 
or monotonous lives ; while the Superiors of Helbeck's 
own orphanages were always ready to help the Bannis- 
dale chapel, on days of special sanctity, by sending a party 
of Sisters and children to provide the singing. 

Meanwhile all else was forgotten. As to food, Hel- 
beck and Father Leadham according to the letters 
describing her experiences which Laura wrote during 
these weeks to a Cambridge girl-friend lived upon 'a 
cup of coffee and a banana ' per day, and she had endless 
difficulty in restraining her charge, Augustina, from doing 
likewise. For Augustina, indeed Stephen Fountain's 
little black-robed widow her husband was daily receding 
further and further into a dim and dreadful distance, where 
she feared and yet wept to think of him. She passed her 
time in the intoxication of her recovered faith, excited by 
the people around her, by the services in the chapel, and 
by her very terrors over her own unholy union, lapse, and 
restoration. The sound of intoning, the scent of incense, 
seemed to pervade the house ; and at the centre of all 
brooded that mysterious Presence upon the altar, which 
drew the passion of Catholic hearts to itself in ever 
deeper measure as the great days of Holy Week and 
Easter approached. 

Through all this drama of an inventive and exacting 
faith Laura Fountain passed like a being from another 
world, an alien and a mocking spirit. She said nothing, 
but her eyes were satires. The effect of her presence in 
the house was felt probably by all its inmates, and by 
many of its visitors. She did not again express herself 
except rarely to Augustina with the vehemence she had 
shown to the little lame orphan ; she was quite ready to 
chat and laugh upon occasion with Father Leadham, who 
had a pleasant wit, and now and then deliberately sought 
her society ; and, owing to the feebleness of Augustina, 


she, quite unconsciously, established certain household 
ways which spoke the woman, and were new to 
Bannisdale. She filled the drawing-room with daffodils ; 
she made the tea-table by the hall fire a cheerful place 
for any who might visit it ; she flitted about the house in 
the prettiest and neatest of spring dresses ; her hair, her 
face, her white hands and neck shone amid the shadows 
of the panelling like jewels in a casket. Everyone was 
conscious of her uneasily conscious. She yielded herself 
to no one, was touched by no one. She stood apart, and 
through her cold, light ways spoke the world and the spirit 
that deny the world at which the Catholic shudders. 

At the same time, like everybody else in the house 
even the sulky housekeeper she grew pale and thin from 
Lenten fare. Mr. Helbeck had of course given orders to 
Mrs. Denton that his sister and Miss Fountain were to be 
well provided. But Mrs. Denton was grudging or forget- 
ful ; and it amused Laura to see that Augustina was made 
to eat, while she herself fared with the rest. The viands 
of whatever sort were generally scanty and ill-cooked ; 
and neither the Squire nor Father Leadham cared any- 
thing about the pleasures of the table, in Lent or out of it. 
Mr. Helbeck hardly noticed what was set before him. 
Once or twice indeed he woke up to the fact that there 
was not enough for the ladies and would say an angry 
word to Mrs. Denton. But on the whole Laura was able 
to follow her whim and to try for herself what this Catholic 
austerity might be like. 

' My dear,' she wrote to her friend, ' one thing you 
learn from a Catholic Lent is that food matters " nowt at 
aw," as they would say in these parts. You can do just 
as well without it as with it. Why you should think 
yourself a saint for not eating it puzzles me. Otherwise 
vive la faim ! And as we are none of us likely to 
starve ourselves half so much as the poor people of the 


world, the soldiers, and sailors, and explorers, are 
doing, to please themselves or their country, I don't 
suppose that anybody will come to harm. 

' You are to understand, nevertheless, that our aus- 
terities are rather unusual. And when anyone comes in 
from the outside they are concealed as much as possible. 
. . . The old Helbecks, as far as I can hear, must have 
been very different people from their modern descendant. 
They were quite good Catholics, understand. What the 
Church prescribed they did but not a fraction beyond. 
They were like the jolly lazy sort of schoolboy, who just 
does his lesson, but would think himself a fool if he did , 
a word more. Whereas the man who lives here now can 
never do enough ! 

'And in general these old Catholic houses from 
Augustina's tales must have been full of fun and 
feasting. Well, I can vouch for it, there is no fun in 
Bannisdale now I It is Mr. Helbeck's personality, I sup- 
pose. It makes its own atmosphere. He can laugh I 
have seen it myself ! but it is an event.' 

As Lent went on, the mingling of curiosity and cool 
criticism with which Miss Fountain regarded her sur- 
roundings became perhaps more apparent. Father 
Leadham, in particular, detected the young lady's fasting 
experiments. He spoke of them to Helbeck as showing 
a lack of delicacy and good taste. But the Squire, it 
seemed, was rather inclined to regard them as the whims 
of a spoilt and wilful child. 

This difference of shade in the judgment of the two 
men may rank as one of the first signs of all that was to 

Certainly Helbeck had never before felt himself so 
uncomfortable in his own house as he had done since 
the arrival of this girl of twenty-one. Nevertheless, 


as the weeks went on, the half-amused, half-con- 
temptuous embarrassment, which had been the first 
natural effect of her presence upon the mind of a man 
so little used to women and their ways, had passed im- 
perceptibly into something else. His reserved and formal 
manner remained the same. But Miss Fountain's 
goings and comings had ceased to be indifferent to him. 
A silent relation still unknown to her had arisen 
between them. 

When he first noticed the fact in himself, it pro- 
duced a strong, temporary reaction. He reproached 
himself for a light and unworthy temper. Had his soli- 
tary life so weakened him that any new face and per- 
sonality about him could distract and disturb him, even 
amid the great thoughts of these solemn days? His 
heart, his life were in his faith. For more than twenty 
years, by prayer and meditation, by all the ingenious 
means that the Catholic Church provides, he had de- 
veloped the sensibilities of faith ; and for the Catholic these 
sensibilities are centred upon and sustained by the Pas- 
sion. Now, hour by hour, his Lord was moving to the 
Cross. He stood perpetually beside the sacred form in 
the streets of Jerusalem, in Gethsemane, on the steps of 
the Prastorium. A varied and dramatic ceremonial was 
always at hand to stimulate the imagination, the peni- 
tence, and the devotion of the believer. That anything 
whatever should break in upon the sacred absorption of 
these days would have seemed to him beforehand a 
calamity to be shrunk from nay, a sin to be repented. He 
had put aside all business that could be put aside with 
one object, and one only to make ' a good Easter.' 

And yet, no sooner did he come back from service in 
the chapel, or from talk of Church matters with Catholic 
friends, than he found himself suddenly full of expecta- 
tion. Was Miss Fountain in the hall, in the garden ? or 


was she gone to those people at Browhead ? If she was 
not in the house above all, if she was with the Masons 
he would find it hard to absorb himself again in the 
thoughts that had held him before. If she was there, if 
he found her sitting reading or working by the hall fire, 
with the dogs at her feet, he seldom indeed went to speak 
to her. He would go into his library, and force himself 
to do his business, while Father Leadham talked to her 
and Augustina. But the library opened on the hall, and 
he could still hear that voice in the distance. Often, when 
she caressed the dogs, her tones had the note in them 
which had startled him on her very first evening under 
his roof. It was the emergence of something hidden and 
passionate ; and it awoke in himself a strange and troubling 
echo the passing surge of an old memory long since 7 
thrust down and buried. How fast his youth was going 
from him ! It was fifteen years since a woman's voice, a 
woman's presence, had mattered anything at all to him. 

So it came about that, in some way or other, he knew, 
broadly, all that Miss Fountain did, little as he saw of her. 
It appeared that she had discovered a pony-carriage for 
hire in the little village near the bridge, and once or twice 
during this fortnight, he learned from Augustina that she 
had spent the afternoon at Browhead Farm, while the 
Bannisdale household had been absorbed hi some function 
of the season. 

Augustina disliked the news as much as he did, and 
would throw up her hands in annoyance. 

'What can she be doing there? They seem the 
roughest kind of people. But she says the son plays so 
wonderfully. I believe she plays duets with him. She 
goes out with the cart full of music.' 

' Music ! ' said Helbeck, in frank amazement. ' That 
lout ! ' 

' Well, she says so,' said Augustina crossly, as though 


it were a personal affront. ' And what do you think, Alan ? 
She talks of going to a dance up there after Easter next 
Thursday, I think.' 

' At the Farm ? ' Helbeck's tone was incredulous. 

'No; at the mill or somewhere. She says the 
schoolmaster is giving it, or something of that sort. Of 
course it's most unsuitable. But what am I to do, Alan ? 
They are her relations ! ' 

' At the same time they are not her class,' said Helbeck 
decidedly. ' She has been brought up in a different way, 
and she cannot behave as though she belonged to them. 
And a dance, with that young man to look after her ! You 
ought to stop it.' 

Augustina said dismally that she would try, but her 
head shook with more feebleness than usual as she went 
back to her knitting. 

Next day Helbeck made a point of finding his sister 
alone. But she only threw him a deprecatory look. 

1 1 tried, Alan indeed I did. She says that she wants 
some amusement that it will do her good and that of 
course her father would have let her go to a dance with 
his relations. And when I say anything to her about not 
being quite like them, she fires up. She says she would be 
ashamed to be thought any better than they, and that 
Hubert has a great deal more good in him than some 
people think.' 

' Hubert ! ' exclaimed Mr. Helbeck, raising his shoulders 
in disgust. After a little silence he turned round as he 
was leaving the room, and said abruptly : ' Is she to stay 
the night at the Farm ? ' 

' No ! oh no ! She wants to come home. She says she 
won't be late ; she promises not to be late.' 

'And that young fellow will drive her home, of 
course ? ' 


' Well, she couldn't drive home alone, Alan, at that 
time of night. It wouldn't be proper.' 

Mr. Helbeck smiled rather sourly. ' One may doubt 
where the propriety comes in. Well, she seems deter- 
mined. We must just arrange it. There is the tower door. 
Kindly tell her, Augustina, that I will let her have the 
key of .it. And kindly tell her also as from yourself, of 
course that she will be treating us all with courtesy if 
she does come home at a reasonable hour. We have been 
a very quiet, prim household all these years, and Mrs. 
Denton, for all her virtues, has a tongue.' 

' So she has,' said Augustina, sighing. ' And she doesn't 
like Laura not at all.' 

Helbeck raised his head quickly. ' She does nothing 
to make Miss Fountain uncomfortable, I trust ? ' 

1 Oh no," said Augustina, undecidedly. ' Besides, it 
doesn't matter. Laura has got Ellen under her thumb.' 

Helbeck's grave countenance showed a gleam of 

' How does Mrs. Denton take that ? ' 

' Oh ! she has to bear it. Haven't you seen, Alan, 
how the girl has brightened up ? Laura has shown her 
how to do her hair ; she helped her to make a new frock 
for Easter ; the girl would do anything in the world for 
her. It's like Bruno. Do you notice, Alan I really 
thought you would be angry that the dog will hardly go 
with you when Laura's there ? ' 

' Oh ! Miss Fountain is a very attractive young lady 
to those she likes,' said Helbeck dryly. 

And on that he went away. 

On Good Friday afternoon Laura, in a renewed passion 
of revolt against all that was going on in the house, went 
to her room and wrote to her friend. Litanies were 
being said in the chapel. The distant melancholy sounds 


mounted to her now and then. Otherwise the house was 
wrapped in a mourning silence; and outside, trailing 
clouds hung round the old walls, making a penitential 
barrier all about it. 

' After this week,' wrote Laura to her friend, ' I shall 
always feel kindly towards "sin" and the "world"! 
How they have been scouted and scourged ! And what, I 
ask you, would any of us do without them ? The " world," 
indeed! I seem to hear it go rumbling on, the poor, 
patient, toiling thing, while these people are praying. It 
works, and makes it possible for them to pray while 
they abuse and revile it. 

'And as to " sin," and the gloom in which we all live 
because of it what on earth does it really mean to any 
decently taught and brought-up creature ? You are greedy, 
or selfish, or idle, or ill-behaved. Very well, then nature, 
or your next-door neighbour, knocks you down for it, and 
serve you right. Next time you won't do it again, or not 
so badly, and by degrees you don't even like to think of 
doing it you would be " ashamed," as people say. It's 
the process that everybody has to go through, I suppose 
being sent into the world the sort of beings we are, and 
without any leave of ours, altogether. But why make 
such a wailing and woe and hullabaloo about it ! Oh 
such a waste of time ! Why doesn't Mr. Helbeck go and 
learn geology ? I vow he hasn't an idea what the rocks of 
his own valley are made of ! 

' Of course there are the very great villains 
I don't like to think about them. And the people 
who are born wrong and sick. But by-and-by we 
shall have weeded them out, or improved the breed. 
And why not spend your energies on doing that, instead 
of singing litanies, and taking ridiculous pains not to eat 
the things you like ? 

1 . . . I shall soon be in disgrace with Augustina and 


Mr. Helbeck, about the Masons worse disgrace, that is to 
say. For now that I have found a pony of my own, I go 
up there two or three times a week. And really in spite 
of all those first experiences I told you of I like it ! 
Cousin Elizabeth has begun to talk to me ; and when I come 
home, I read the Bible to see what it was all about. And 
I don't let her say too bad things about Mr. Helbeck it 
wouldn't be quite gentlemanly on my part. And I know 
most of the Williams story now, both from her and 

'Imagine, my dear ! a son not allowed to come and see 
his mother before she died, though she cried for him 
night and day. He was at a Jesuit school in Wales. 
They shilly-shallied, and wrote endless letters and at 
last they sent him off the day she died. He arrived 
three hours too late, and his father shut the door in his 
face. "Noa yo shan't see her," said the grim old fellow 
" an if there's a God above, yo shan't see her in heaven 
nayder ! " Augustina of course calls it " holy obedience." 

1 The painting in the chapel is really extraordinary. 
Mr. Helbeck seems to have taught the young man, to 
begin with. He himself used to paint long ago not 
very well, I should think, to judge from the bits of his 
work still left in the chapel. But at any rate the youth 
learnt the rudiments from him, and then of course went 
far beyond his teacher. He was almost two years here, 
working in the house tabooed by his family all the time. 
Then there seems to have been a year in London, when 
he gave Mr. Helbeck some trouble. I don't know 
Augustina is vague. How it was that he joined the Jesuits 
I can't make out. No doubt Mr. Helbeck induced them 
to take him. But why I ask you with such a gift ? 
They say he will be here in the summer, and one will 
have to set one's teeth and shake hands with him. 

' Oh ! that droning in the Chapel there it is again ! 


I will open the window and let the howl of the rain in to 
get rid of it. And yet I can't always keep myself away 
from it. It is all so new so horribly intimate. Every 
now and then the music or a prayer or something sends 
a stab right down to my heart of hearts. A voice of 
suffering, of torture oh ! so ghastly, so real. Then I come 
and read Papa's note-books for an hour to forget it. I 
wish he had ever taught me anything strictly ! But of 
course it was my fault. 

' ... As to this dance, why shouldn't I go ? just tell 
me ! It is being given by the new schoolmaster, and two or 
three young farmers, in the big room at the old mill. 
The schoolmaster is the most tiresomely virtuous young 
man, and the whole thing is so respectable, it makes me 
yawn to think of it. Polly implores me to go, and I like 
Polly. (Very soon she'll let me halve her fringe !) I 
gave Hubert a preliminary snub, and now he doesn't 
dare implore me to go. But that is all the more engaging. 
I don't flirt with him ! heavens ! unless you call bear- 
taming flirtation. But one can't see his music running 
to waste in such a bog of tantrums and tempers. I must 
try my hand. And as he is my cousin I can put up with 

After High Mass on Easter Sunday Helbeck walked 
home from Whinthorpe alone, as his companion Father 
Leadham had an engagement hi the town. 

Through the greater part of Holy Week the skies had 
been as grey and penitential as the season. The fells and 
the river flats had been scourged at night with torrents 
of rain and wind, and in the pale mornings any passing 
promise of sun had been drowned again before the day 
was high. The roofs and eaves, the small panes of the 
old house, trickled and shone with rain ; and at night the 
wind tore through the gorge of the river with great 


boomings and onslaughts from the west. But with Easter 
eve there had come appeasement a quiet dying of the 
long storm. And as Helbeck made his way along the river 
on Easter morning, mountain and flood, grass and tree, 
were in a glory of recovered sun. The distant fells were 
drawn upon the sky in the heavenliest brushings of blue 
and purple ; the river thundered over its falls and weirs 
in a foamy splendour ; and the deer were feeding with a 
new zest amid the fast-greening grass. 

He stopped a moment to rest upon his stick and look 
about him. Something in his own movement reminded 
him of another solitary walk some five weeks before. And 
at the same instant he perceived a small figure sitting on 
a stone seat in front of him. It was Miss Fountain. She 
had a book on her knee, and the two dogs were beside 
her. Her white dress and hat seemed to make the centre 
of a whole landscape. The river bent inward in a great 
sweep at her feet, the crag rose behind her, and the great 
prospect beyond the river of dale and wood, of scar and 
cloud, seemed spread there for her eyes alone. A strange 
fancy seized on Helbeck. This was his world his world 
by inheritance and by love. Five weeks before he had 
walked about it as a solitary. And now this figure sat 
enthroned, as it were, at the heart of it. He roughly 
shook the fancy off and walked on. 

Miss Fountain greeted him with her usual detachment. 
He stood a minute or two irresolute, then threw himself 
on the slope in front of her. 

' Bruno will hardly look at his master now,' he said to 
her pleasantly, pointing to the dog's attitude as it lay with 
its nose upon the hem of her dress. 

Laura closed her book in some annoyance. He 
usually returned by the other side of the river, and she 
was not grateful to him for his breach of habit. Why had 
he been meddling in her affairs? She perfectly under- 


stood why Augustina had been making herself so difficult 
about the dance, and about the Masons in general. Let 
him keep his proprieties to himself. She, Laura, had 
nothing to do with them. She was hardly his guest still 
less his ward. She had come to Bannisdale against her 
will, simply and solely as Augustina's nurse. In return, 
let Mr. Helbeck leave her alone to enjoy her plebeian 
relations as she pleased. 

Nevertheless, of course she must be civil ; and civil 
she intermittently tried to be. She answered his remark 
about Bruno by a caress to the dog that brought him 
to lay his muzzle against her knee. 

' Do you mind ? Some people do mind. I can easily 
drive him away.' 

4 Oh no ! I reckon on recovering him some day,' he 
said with a frank smile. 

Laura flushed. 

'Very soon, I should think. Have you noticed, Mr. 
Helbeck, how much better Augustina is already ? I believe 
that by the end of the summer, at least, she will be able 
to do without me. And she tells me that the Superior 
at the Orphanage has a girl to recommend her as a 
companion when I go." 

' Eather officious of the Reverend Mother, I think,' said 
Helbeck sharply. He paused a moment, then added with 
some emphasis ' Don't imagine, Miss Fountain, that any- 
body else can do for my sister what you do." 

' Ah ! but well one must live one's life mustn't one, 
Fricka?' Fricka was by this time jealously pawing her 
dress. ' I want to work at my music hard this winter.' 

' And I fear that Bannisdale is not a very gay place 
for a young lady visitor ? ' 

He smiled. And so did she ; though his tone, with its 
shade of proud humility, embarrassed her. 

1 It is as beautiful as a dream ! ' she said, with sudden 


energy, throwing up her little hand. And he turned to 
look, as she was looking, at the river and the woods. 

1 You feel the beauty of it so much ? ' he asked her, 
wondering. His own strong feeling for his native place 
was all a matter of old habit and association. The flash 
of wild pleasure in her face astounded him. There was in 
it that fiery, tameless something that was the girl's distin- 
guishing mark, her very soul and self. Was it beginning 
to speak from her blood to his ? 

She nodded, then laughed. 

' But, of course, it isn't my business to live here. I 
have a great friend a Cambridge girl and we have 
arranged it all. We are to live together, and travel a 
great deal, and work at music.' 

'That is what young ladies do nowadays, I under- 

'And why not?' 

He lifted his shoulders, as though to decline the answer, 
and was silent so silent that she was forced at last to take 
the field. 

'Don't you approve of "new women," Mr. Helbeck? 
Oh ! I wish I was a new woman/ she threw out defiantly. 
' But I'm not good enough I don't know anything.' 

' I wasn't thinking of them,' he said simply. ' I was 
thinking of the life that women used to live here, in this 
place, in the past of my mother and my grandmother.' 

She could not help a stir of interest. What might the 
Catholic women of Bannisdale have been like? She 
looked along the path that led downward to the house, 
and seemed to see their figures upon it not short and 
sickly like Augustina, but with the morning in their eyes 
and on their white brows, like the Eomney lady. Helbeck's 
thoughts meanwhile were peopled by the more solid forms 
of memory. 

' You remember the picture ? ' he said at last, breaking 



the silence. ' The husband of that lady was a boor and a 
gambler. He soon broke her heart. But her children 
consoled her to some extent, especially the daughters, 
several of whom became nuns. The poor wife came from 
a large Lancashire family, but she hardly saw her rela- 
tions after her marriage ; she was ashamed of her husband's 
failings, and of their growing poverty. She became very 
shy and solitary, and very devout. These rock-seats along 
the river were placed by her. It is said that she used 
in summer to spend long hours on that very seat where 
you are sitting, doing needlework, or reading the Little 
Office of the Virgin, at the hours when her daughters in 
their French convent would be saying their office in chapel. 
She died before her husband, a very meek, broken creature. 
I have a little book of her meditations, that she wrote out 
by the wish of her confessor. 

' Then my grandmother ah ! well, that is too long a 
story. She was a Frenchwoman we have some of her 
books in my study. She never got on with England and 
English people and at last, after her husband's death, 
she never went outside the house and park. My father 
owed much of his shyness and oddity to her bringing up. 
When she felt herself dying she went over to her family 
to die at Nantes. She is buried there ; and my father 
was sent to the Jesuit school at Nantes for a long time. 

Then my mother But I mustn't bore you with these 

family tales.' 

He turned to look at his listener. Laura was by this 
time half embarrassed, half touched. 

' I should like to hear about your mother,' she said, 
rather stiffly. 

' You may talk to me if you like, but don't, pray, 
presume upon it ! ' that was what her manner said. 

Helbeck smiled a little, unseen, under his black mous- 


' My mother was a great lover of books the only 
Helbeck, I think, that ever read anything. She was a 
friend and correspondent of Cardinal Wiseman's and 
she tried to make a family history out of the papers here. 
But in her later years she was twisted and crippled by 
rheumatic gout her poor fingers could not turn the pages. 
I used to help her sometimes ; but we none of us shared 
her tastes. She was a very happy person, however.' 

Happy ! Why ? Laura felt a fresh prick of irritation 
as he paused. Was she never to escape not even here, 
in the April sun, beside the river bank ! For, of course, 
what all this meant was that the really virtuous and 
admirable woman does not roam the world in search of 
art and friendship; she makes herself happy at home 
with religion and rheumatic gout. 

But Helbeck resumed. And instantly it struck her 
that he had dropped a sentence, and was taking up the 
thread further on. 

1 But there was no priest in the house then, for the 
Society could not spare us one ; and very few services 
in the chapel. Through all her young days nothing 
could be poorer or raggeder than English Catholicism. 
There was no church at Whinthorpe. Sunday after Sun- 
day my father used to read the prayers in the chapel, 
which was half a lumber-room. I often think no Dissent 
could have been barer; but we heard Mass when we 
could, and that was enough for us. One of the priesTs"" 
from Stonyhurst came when she died. This is her little 

He raised it from the grass a small volume bound in 
faded morocco but he did not offer to show it to Miss 
Fountain, and she felt no inclination to ask for it. 

' Why did they live so much alone ? ' she asked him, 
with a little frown. 'I suppose there were always 
neighbours ? ' 


He shook his head. 

'A difference that has law and education besides 
religion behind it, goes deep. Times are changed, but it 
goes deep still.' 

There was a pause. Then she looked at him with a 
whimsical lifting of her brows. 

' Bannisdale was not amusing ? ' she said. 

He laughed good-humouredly. ' Not for a woman, 
certainly. For a man, yes. There was plenty of rough 
sport and card-playing, and a good deal of drinking. 
The men were full of character, often full of ability. But 
there was no outlet and a wretched education. My 
great-grandfather might have been saved by a com- 
mission in the army. But the law forbade it him. So 
they lived to themselves and by themselves ; they didn't 
choose to live with their Protestant neighbours who had 
made them outlaws and inferiors ! And, of course, they 
sank in manners and refinement. You may see the results 
in all the minor Catholic families to this day that is, 
the old families. The few great houses that remained 
faithful escaped many of the drawbacks of the position. 
The smaller ones suffered, and succumbed. But they had 
their compensations ! ' 

As he spoke he rose from the grass, and the dogs, 
springing up, barked joyously about him. 

' Augustina will be waiting dinner for us, I think.' 

Laura, who had meant to stay behind, saw that she 
was expected to walk home with him. She rose un- 
willingly, and moved on beside him. 

' Their compensations ? ' That meant the Mass and 
all the rest of this tyrannous clinging religion. What 
did it honestly mean to Mr. Helbeck to anybody ? She 
remembered her father's rough laugh. ' There are twelve 
hundred men, my dear, belonging to the Athenaeum Club. 
I give you the bishops. After them, what do you suppose 


religion has to say to the rest of the twelve hundred? 
How many of them ever give a thought to it ? ' 

She raised her eyes, furtively, to Helbeck's face. In 
spite of its melancholy lines, she had lately begun to see 
that its fundamental expression was a contented one. 
That, no doubt, came from the ' compensations.' But to- 
day there was more. She was positively startled by his 
look of happiness as he strode silently along beside her. 
It was all the more striking because of the plain traces 
left upon him by Lenten fatigue and ' mortification.' 

It was Easter day, and she supposed he had come 
from Communion. 

A little shiver passed through her, caused by the 
recollection of words she had heard, acts of which she had 
been a witness, in the chapel during the foregoing week 
words and acts of emotion, of abandonment love crying 
to love. A momentary thirst seized her an instant's 
sense of privation, of longing, gone almost as soon as it 
had come. 

Helbeck turned to her. 

' So this dance you are going to is on Thursday ? ' he 
said pleasantly. 

She came to herself in a moment. 

1 Yes, on Thursday, at eight. I shall go early. I have 
engaged a fly to take me to the farm thank you ! and 
my cousins will see me home. I am obliged to you for the 
key. It will save my giving any trouble.' 

' If you did we should not grudge it,' he said quietly. 

She was silent for a few more steps, then she said : 

'I quite understand, Mr. Helbeck, that you do not 
approve of my going. But I must judge for myself. The 
Masons are my own people. I am sorry they should 

have Well I don't understand but it seems you 

have reason to think badly of them.' 

' Not of them,' he said, with emphasis. 


' Of my cousin Hubert, then ? ' 

He made no answer. She coloured angrily, then 
broke out, her words tumbling childishly over one 
another : 

' There are a great many things said of Hubert that I 
don't believe he deserves ! He has a great many good 
tastes his music is wonderful. At any rate, he is my 
cousin ; they are papa's only relations in the world. He 
would have been kind to Hubert; and he would have 
despised me if I turned my back on them because I was 
staying in a grand house with grand people ! ' 

' Grand people ! ' said Helbeck, raising his eyebrows. 
'But I am sorry I led you to say these things, Miss 
Fountain. Excuse me may I open this gate for you ! ' 

She reached her own room as quickly as possible, and 
dropped upon the chair beside her dressing-table in a 
whirl of angry feeling. A small and heated face looked 
out upon her from the glass. But after the first instinctive 
moment she took no notice of it. With the mind's eye 
she still saw the figure she had just parted from, the noble 
poise of the head, thrown back on the broad shoulders, 
the black and greys of the hah*, the clear penetrating 
glance all the slight signs of age and austerity that had 
begun to filch away the Squire's youth. It was at least 
ten minutes before she could free herself enough from the 
unwelcome memories of her walk to find a vindictive 
pleasure in running hastily to look at her one white dress 
all she had to wear at the Browhead dance. 

On Thursday afternoon Helbeck was fishing in the 
park. The sea-trout were coming up, the day was soft, 
and he had done well. But just as the evening rise was 
beginning he put up his rod and went home. Father 
Leadham had taken his departure. Augustina, Miss 
Fountain, and he were again alone in the house. 


He went into his study, and left the door open, while 
he busied himself with some writing. 

Presently Augustina put her head in. She looked 
dishevelled, and rather pinker than usual, as always 
happened when there was the smallest disturbance of 
her routine. 

' Laura has just gone up to dress, Alan. Is it fine ? ' 

1 There is no rain,' he said, without turning his head. 
' Don't shut the door, please. This fire is oppressive.' 

She went away, and he wrote on a little while then 
listened. He heard hurrying feet and movements over- 
head, and presently a door opened hastily, and a voice 
exclaimed, ' Just two or three, you know, Ellen from 
that corner under the kitchen -window ! Eun, there's a 
good girl ! ' 

And there was a clattering noise as Ellen ran down 
the front stairs, and then flew along the corridor to the 

In a minute she was back again, and as she passed 
his room Helbeck saw that she was carrying a bunch of 
white narcissus. 

Then more sounds of laughter and chatter overhead. 
At last Augustina hurried down and looked in upon him 
again, flurried and smiling. 

' Alan, you really must see her. She looks so pretty.' 

' I am afraid I'm busy,' he said, still writing. And 
she retired disappointed, careful, however, to follow his 
wishes about the door. 

1 Augustina, hold Bruno ! ' cried a light voice suddenly. 
1 If he jumps on me I'm done for 1 ' 

A swish of soft skirts and she was there in the hall. 
Helbeck could see her quite plainly as she stood by the 
oak table in her white dress. There was just room at the 
throat of it for a pearl necklace, and at the wrists for 
some thin gold bracelets. The narcissus were in her 


hair, which she had coiled and looped in a wonderful 
way, so that Helbeck's eyes were dazzled by its colour and 
abundance, and by the whiteness of the slender neck below 
it. She meanwhile was quite unconscious of his neigh- 
bourhood, and he saw that she was all in a happy flutter, 
hastily putting on her gloves, and chattering alternately 
to Augustina and to the transformed Ellen, who stood 
in speechless admiration behind her, holding a cloak. 

' There, Ellen, that'll do. You're a darling and the 
flowers are perfect. Eun now, and tell Mrs. Denton that 
I didn't keep you more than twenty minutes. Oh yes, 
Augustina, I'm quite warm. I can't choke, dear, even to 
please you. There now here goes ! If you do lock me 
out, there's a corner under the bridge, quite snug. My 
dress will mind I shan't. Good-night. My compliments 
to Mr. Helbeck.' 

Then a hasty kiss to Augustina and she was gone. 

Helbeck went out into the hall. Augustina was 
standing on the steps, watching the departing fly. At the 
sight of her brother she turned back to him, her poor 
little face aglow. 

' She did look so nice, Alan ! I wish she had gone to 
a proper dance, and not to these odd farmers and people. 
Why, they'll all go in their high dresses, and think her 

1 1 assure you I never saw anything so smart as Miss 
Mason at the hunt ball,' said Helbeck. ' Did you give 
her the key, Augustina? But I shall probably sit up. 
There are some Easter accounts that must be done.' 

The old clock in the hall struck one. Helbeck was 
sitting in his familiar chair before the log fire, which he 
had just replenished. In one hand was a life of St. 
Philip Neri, the other played absently with Bruno's ears. 
In truth he was not reading, but listening. 


Suddenly there was a sound. He turned his head, and 
saw that the door leading from the hall to the tower stair- 
case, and thence to the kitchen regions, had been opened. 
1 Who's there ? ' he said in astonishment. 

Mrs. Denton appeared. 

' You, Denton ! What are you up for at this time ? ' 

1 1 came to see if the yoong lady had coom back,' she 
said in a low voice, and with her most forbidding manner. 
1 It's late, and I heard nowt.' 

1 Late ? Not at all ! Go to bed, Denton, at once ; Miss 
Fountain will be here directly.' 

' I'm not sleepy ; I can wait for her,' said the house- 
keeper, advancing a step or two into the hall. ' You mun 
be tired, sir, and should take your rest.' 

1 I'm not the least tired, thank you. Good-night. Let 
me recommend you to go to bed as quickly as possible.' 

Mrs. Denton lingered for a moment, as though in 
hesitation, then went with a sulky unwillingness that was 
very evident to her master. 

Helbeck laid down his book on his knee with a little 

'She would have liked to get in a scolding, but we 
won't give her the chance.' 

The reverie that followed was not a very pleasant one. 
He seemed to see Miss Fountain in the large rustic room, 
with a bevy of young men about her young fellows in 
Sunday coats, with shiny hair and limbs bursting out of 
their ill-fitting clothes. There would be loud talking and 
laughter, rough jokes that would make her wince, compli- 
ments that would disgust her they not knowing how to 
take her, nor she them. She would be wholly out of her 
place a butt for impertinence perhaps worse. And there 
would be a certain sense of dragging a lady from her 
sphere of making free with the old house and the old 


He thought of it with disgust. He was an aristocrat to 
his fingers' ends. 

But how could it have been helped ? And when he 
remembered her as she had stood there in the hall, so young 
and pretty, so eager for her pleasure, he said to himself 
with sudden heartiness : 

' Nonsense ! I hope the child has enjoyed herself.' It 
was the first time that, even in his least formal thoughts, 
he had applied such a word to her. 

Silence again. The wind breathed gently round the 
house. He could hear the river rushing. 

Once he thought there was a sound of wheels, and he 
went to the outer door, but there was nothing. Overhead 
the stars shone, and along the track of the river lay a 
white mist. 

As he was turning back to the hall, however, he heard 
voices from the mist a loud man's voice, then a little cry 
as of someone in fright or anger, then a song. The 
rollicking tune of it shouted into the night, into the stately 
stillness that surrounded the old house, had the abruptest, 
unseemliest effect. 

Helbeck ran down the steps. A dog-cart with lights 
approached the gateway in the low stone enclosure before 
the house. It shot through so fast and so awkwardly as 
to graze the inner post. There was another little cry. 
Then, with various lurches and lunges, the cart drove 
round the gravel, and brought up somewhere near the 

Hubert Mason jumped down. 

'Who's that? Mr. Helbeck? Lord! glad to see 
yer, I'm sure ! There's that little silly she's been 
making such a fuss all the way thought I was going 
to upset her into the river, I do believe. She would 
try and get at the reins, though I told her it was the 
worst thing to do, whatever to be interfering with the 


driver. Lord! I thought she'd have used the whip to 

And Mason stood beside the shafts, with his arms on 
the side, laughing loudly and looking at Laura. 

' Stand out of the way, sir ! ' said Helbeck sternly, ' and 
let me help Miss Fountain.' 

1 Oh 1 I say ! Come now, I'm not going to stand you 
coming it over me twice in the same sort not I,' cried 
the young man with a violent change of tone. ' You get 
out of the way d mn you ! I brought Miss Fountain 
home, and she's my cousin so there ! not yours.' 

1 Hubert, go away at once ! ' said Laura's shaking but 
imperious voice. ' I prefer that Mr. Helbeck should help 

She had risen and was clinging to the rail of the dog- 
cart, while her face drooped so that Helbeck could not 
see it. 

Mason stepped back with another oath, caught his foot 
in the reins, which he had carelessly left hanging, and fell 
on his knees on the gravel. 

' No matter,' said Helbeck, seeing that Laura paused 
in terror. ' Give me your hand, Miss Fountain.' 

She slipped on the step in the darkness, ancl Helbeck 
caught her and set her on her feet. 

' Go in, please. I will look after him.' 

She ran up the steps, then turned to look. 

Mason, still swearing and muttering, had some 
difficulty in getting up. Helbeck stood by till he had 
risen and disentangled the reins. 

' If you don't drive carefully down the park in the fog 
you'll come to harm,' he said, shortly, as Mason mounted 
to his seat. 

' That's none of your business,' said Mason, sulkily. ' I 
brought my cousin all right I suppose I can take myself. 
Now, come up, will you ! ' 


He struck the pony savagely on the back with the 
reins. The tired animal started forward ; the cart swayed 
again from side to side. Helbeck held his breath as it 
passed the gate-posts; but it shaved through, and soon 
nothing but the gallop of retreating hoofs could be heard 
through the night. 

He mounted the steps, and shut and barred the outer 
door. When he entered the hall, Laura was sitting by 
the oak table, one hand supporting and hiding her face, 
the other hanging listlessly beside her. 

She struggled to her feet as he came in. The hood of 
her blue cloak had fallen backwards, and her hair was in 
confusion round her face and neck. Her cheeks were 
very white, and there were tears in her eyes. She had 
never seemed to him so small, so childish, or so lovely. 

He took no notice of her agitation or of her efforts to 
speak. He went to a tray of wine and biscuits that had 
been left by his orders on a side-table, and poured out 
some wine. 

' No, I don't want it,' she said, waving it away. ' I 
don't know what to say ' 

' You would do best to take it,' he said, interrupting 

His quiet insistence overcame her, and she drank it. 
It gave her back her voice and a little colour. She bit 
her lip, and looked after Helbeck as he walked away to 
the farther end of the hall to light a candle for her. 

'Mr. Helbeck,' she began as he came near. Then 
she gathered force. 'You must you ought to let me 

' For what ? I am afraid you had a disagreeable and 
dangerous drive home. Would you like me to wake one 
of the servants Ellen, perhaps and tell her to come to 

1 Oh ! you won't let me say what I ought to say,' she 


exclaimed in despair. 'That my cousin should have 
behaved like this should have insulted you ' 

' No ! no !' he said, with some peremptoriness. ' Your 
cousin insulted you by daring to drive with you in such a 
state. That is all that matters to me or should, I think, 
matter to you. Will you have your candle, and shall I 
call anyone ? ' 

She shook her head and moved towards the staircase, 
he accompanying her. When he saw how feebly she 
walked, he was on the point of asking her to take his arm 
and let him help her to her room ; but he refrained. 

At the foot of the stairs she paused. Her ' Good-night ' 
died hi her throat as she offered her hand. Her dejection, 
her girlish shame, made her inexpressibly attractive to 
him ; it was the first time he had ever seen her with all 
her arms thrown down. But he said nothing. He bade 
her good-night with a cheerful courtesy, and, returning to 
the hall fire, he stood beside it till he heard the distant 
shutting of her door. 

Then he sank back into his chair and sat motionless, 
with knitted brows for nearly an hour, staring into the 
caverns of the fire. 



LAURA awoke very early the following morning, but 
though the sun was bright outside, it brought no 
gaiety to her. The night before she had hurried her un- 
dressing, that she might bury herself in her pillow as 
quickly as possible, and force sleep to come to her. It was 
her natural instinct in the face of pain or humiliation. 
To escape from it by any summary method was always 
her first thought. ' I will, I must go to sleep ! ' she had 
said to herself, in a miserable fury with herself and fate ; 
and by the help of an intense exhaustion sleep came. 

But in the morning she could do herself no more 
violence. Memory took its course, and a very disquieting 
course it was. She sat up in bed, with her hands round 
her knees, thinking not only of all the wretched and un- 
toward incidents connected with the ball, but of the whole 
three weeks that had gone before it. What had she been 
doing, how had she been behaving, that this odious 
youth should have dared to treat her in such a way ? 

Fricka jumped up beside her, and Laura held the 
dog's nose against her cheek for comfort, while she con- 
fessed herself. Oh ! what a fool she had been. Why, 
pray, had she been paying all these visits to the Farm, and 
spending all these hours in this young fellow's company ? 
Her quick intelligence unravelled all the doubtful skein. 
Yearning towards her kindred? yes, there had been 
something of that. Eeooil from the Bannisdale ways, an 


angry eagerness to scout them and fly them? yes, 
that there had always been in plenty. But she dived 
deeper into her self-disgust, and brought up the real 
bottom truth, disagreeable and hateful as it was : mere 
excitement about a young man, as a young man mere 
love of power over a great hulking fellow whom other 
people found unmanageable ! Aye, there it was, in spite 
of all the glosses she had put upon it in her letters to 
Molly Friedland. All through, she had known perfectly 
well that Hubert Mason was not her equal ; that on a 
number of subjects he had vulgar habits and vulgar ideas ; 
that he often expressed his admiration for her in a way 
she ought to have resented. There were whole sides of 
him, indeed, that she shrank from exploring that she 
wanted, nay, was determined, to know nothing about. 

On the other hand, her young daring, for want of any 
better prey, had taken pleasure from the beginning in 
bringing him under her yoke. With her second visit 
to the Farm she saw that she could make him her slave 
that she had only to show him a little flattery, a little 
encouragement, and he would be as submissive and 
obedient to her as he was truculent and ill-tempered 
towards the rest of the world. And her vanity had 
actually plumed itself on so poor a prey ! One excuse 
yes, there was the one excuse ! With her he had shown 
the side that she alone of his kindred could appreciate. 
But for the fear of Cousin Elizabeth she could have kept 
him hanging over the piano hour after hour while she 
played, in a passion of delight. Here was common 
ground. Nay, in native power he was her superior, 
though she, with her better musical training, could help 
and correct him in a thousand ways. She had the 
woman's passion for influence ; and he seemed like 
wax in her hands. Why not help him to education 
and refinement, to the cultivation of the best that waa 



in him? She would persuade Cousin Elizabeth alter 
and amend his life for him and Mr. Helbeck should see 
that there were better ways of dealing with people than 
by looking down upon them and despising them. 

And now the very thought of these vain and silly 
dreams set her face aflame. Power over him ? Let 
her only remember the humiliations through which she 
had been dragged ! All the dance came back upon her 
the strange people, the strange young men, the strange, 
raftered room, with the noise of the mill-stream and the 
weir vibrating through it, and mingling with the chatter 
of the fiddles. But she had been determined to enjoy 
it, to give herself no airs, to forget with all her might 
that she was any way different from these dale-folk, 
whose blood was hers. And with the older people all 
had been easy. With the elderly women especially, in their 
dark gowns and large Sunday collars, she had felt herself 
at home ; again and again she had put herself under their 
wing, while in their silent way they turned their shrewd 
motherly eyes upon her, and took stock of her and every 
detail of her dress. And the old men, with then: patri- 
archal manners and their broad speech it had been all 
sweet and pleasant to her. ' Noo, miss, they tell ma as 
yo are Stephen Fountain's dowter. An I mut meak bold 
ter cum an speak to thee, for a knew 'un when he was a 
lile lad.' Or ' Yo'll gee ma your hand, Miss Fountain, for 
we're pleased an proud to git yo here. Yer fadther an 
mea gaed to skule togedther. My worrd, but he was par- 
lish cliver! An I daursay as you teak afther him.' 
Kind folk ! with all the signs of then: hard and simple life 
about them.' 

But the young men how she had hated them ! 
whether they were shy, or whether they were bold; 
whether they romped with their sweethearts, and laughed 
at their own jokes like bulls of Bashan, or whether they 


wore their best clothes as though the garments burnt 
them, and danced the polka in a perspiring and anguished 
silence ! No ; she was not of their class, thank Heaven ! 
She never wished to be. One man had asked her to put 
a pin in his collar ; another had spilt a cup of coffee over 
her white dress; a third had confided to her that his 
young lady was ' that luvin ' to him in public, he had 
been fair obliged to bid her ' keep hersel to hersel afore 
foak.' The only partner with whom it had given her 
the smallest pleasure to dance had been the school- 
master and principal host of the evening, a tall, sickly 
young man, who wore spectacles and talked through 
his nose. But he talked of things she understood, 
and he danced tolerably. Alas ! there had come the 
rub. Hubert Mason had stood sentinel beside her 
during the early part of the evening. He had assumed 
the proudest and most exclusive airs with regard to 
her, and his chief aim seemed to be to impress upon 
her the prestige he enjoyed among his fellows as a 
football-player and an athlete. In the end his patronage 
and his boasting had become insupportable to a girl of 
any spirit. And his dancing ! It seemed to her that he 
held her before him like a shield, and then charged the 
room with her. She had found herself the centre of all 
eyes, her pretty dress torn, her hair about her ears. So 
that she had shaken him off with too much impatience, 
no doubt, and too little consideration for the touchiness of 
his temper. And then, what stormy looks, what mutter- 
ings, what disappearances into the refreshment-room 
and, finally, what fierce jealousy of the schoolmaster ! 
Laura awoke at last to the disagreeable fact that she had 
to drive home with him and he had already made her 
ridiculous. Even Polly the bedizened Polly looked 
grave, and there had been angry conferences between her 
and her brother. 



Then came the departure, Laura by this time full of 
terrors, but not knowing what to do, nor how else she 
was to get home. And, oh ! that grinning band of youths 
round the door Mason's triumphant leap into the cart 
and boisterous farewells to his friends and that first 
perilous moment, when the pony had almost backed into 
the mill-stream, and was only set right again by half a 
dozen stalwart arms, amid the laughter of the street ! 

As for the wild drive through the dark, she shivered 
again, half with anger, half with terror, as she thought 
of it. How had they ever got home ? She could not 
tell. He was drunk, of course. He seemed to her to 
have driven into everything and over everything, abusing 
the schoolmaster and Mr. Helbeck and his mother all the 
time, and turning upon her when she answered him, or 
showed any terror of what might happen to them, now 
with fury, and now with attempts at love-making which 
it had taken all her power over him to quell. 

Their rush up the park had been like the ride of the 
wild horseman. Every moment she had expected to be 
in the river. And with the approach of the house he had 
grown wilder and more unmanageable than before. 
' Dang it ! let's wake up the old Papist ! ' he had said to 
her when she had tried to stop his singing. 'What 
harm'll it do ? ' 

As for the shame of then* arrival, the very thought 
of Mr. Helbeck standing silent on the steps as they 
approached, of Hubert's behaviour, of her host's 
manner to her in the hall, made her shut her eyes and 
hide her red face against Fricka for sympathy. How was 
she ever to meet Mr. Helbeck again, to hold her own 
against him any more ! 

An hour later Laura, very carefully dressed, and 
holding herself very erect, entered Augustina's room. 


' Oh, Laura ! ' cried Mrs. Fountain as the door opened. 
She was very flushed, and she stared from her bed at her 
stepdaughter in an agitated silence. 

Laura stopped short. 

' Well, what is it, Augustina ? What have you heard ? ' 

I Laura ! how can you do such things ! ' 

And Augustina, who already had her breakfast beside 
her, raised her handkerchief to her eyes and began to 
cry. Laura threw up her head and walked away to a far 
window, where she turned and confronted Mrs. Fountain. 

'Well, he has been quick hi telling you,' she said, 
in a low but fierce voice. 

'He? What do you mean ? My brother? As if he 
had said a word ! I don't believe he ever would. But 
Mrs. Denton heard it all.' 

' Mrs. Denton ? ' said Laura. ' Mrs. Denton ? What 
on earth had she to do with it ? ' 

' She heard you drive up. You know her room looks 
on the front.' 

' And she listened ? sly old creature ! ' said Laura, 
recovering herself. 'Well, it can't be helped. If she 
heard, she heard, and whatever I may feel, I'm not going 
to apologise to Mrs. Denton.' 

' But, Laura Laura was he ' 

Augustina could not finish the odious question. 

I 1 suppose he was,' said Laura, bitterly. ' It seems 
to be the natural thing for young men of that sort.' 

' Laura, do come here.' 

Laura came unwillingly, and Augustina took her hands 
and looked up at her. 

1 And, Laura, he was abominably rude to Alan 1 ' 

' Yes, he was, and I'm very sorry,' said the girl slowly. 
' But it can't be helped, and it's no good making yourself 
miserable, Augustina.' 

' Miserable ? I ? It's you, Laura, who look miserable. 


I never saw you so white and dragged. You must never, 
never see him again.' 

The girl's obstinacy awoke in a moment. 

' I don't know that I shall promise that, Augustina.' 

' Oh, Laura ! as if you could wish to,' said Augustina, 
in tears. 

'I can't give up my father's people,' said the girl, 
stiffly. ' But he shall never annoy Mr. Helbeck again, I 
promise you that, Augustina.' 

' Oh ! you did look so nice, Laura, and your dress was 
so pretty ! ' 

Laura laughed, rather grimly. 

' There's not much of it left this morning,' she said. 
' However, as one of the gentlemen who kindly helped to 
ruin it said last night, " Lor, bless yer, it'll wesh ! " ' 

After breakfast Laura found herself in the drawing- 
room, looking through an open window at the spring 
green in a very strained and irritable mood. 

' I would not begin if I could not go on,' she said to 
herself with disdain. But her lip trembled. 

So Mr. Helbeck had taken offence, after all. Hardly 
a word at breakfast, except such as the briefest, barest 
civility required. And he was going away, it appeared, for 
three days, perhaps a week, on business. If he had given 
her the slightest opening, she had meant to master her pride 
sufficiently to renew her apologies and ask his advice, 
subject, of course, to her own final judgment as to what 
kindred and kindness might require of her. But he had 
given her no opening, and the subject was not, apparently, 
to be renewed between them. 

She might have asked him, too, to curb Mrs. Denton's 
tongue. But no, it was not to be. Very well. The girl drew 
her small frame together and prepared, as no one thought 
for or befriended her, to think for and befriend herself. 


She passed the next few days hi some depression. 
Mr. Helbeck was absent. Augustina was very ailing 
and querulous, and Laura was made to feel that it was 
her fault. Not a word of regret or apology came from 
Browhead Farm. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Denton had apparently made her 
niece understand that there was to be no more dallying 
with Miss Fountain. Whenever she and Laura met, Ellen 
lowered her head and ran. Laura found that the girl was 
not allowed to wait upon her personally any more. Mean- 
while the housekeeper herself passed Miss Fountain with 
a manner and a silence which were in themselves an insult. 

And two days after Helbeck's departure, Laura was 
crossing the hall towards tea-time, when she saw Mrs. 
Denton admitting one of the Sisters from the Orphanage. 
It was the Eeverend Mother herself, the portly shrewd- 
faced woman who had wished Mr. Helbeck a good 
wife. Laura passed her, and the nun saluted her 
coldly. ' Dear me ! you shall have Augustina to your- 
self, my good friend,' thought Miss Fountain. ' Don't be 
afraid.' And she turned into the garden. 

An hour later she came back. As she opened the 
door in the old wall she saw the Sister on the steps, 
talking with Mrs. Denton. At sight of her they parted. 
The nun drew her long black cloak about her, ran down 
the steps, and hurried away. 

And indoors, Laura could not imagine what had 
happened to her stepmother. Augustina was clearly 
excited, yet she would say nothing. Her restlessness was 
incessant, and at intervals there were furtive tears. Once 
or twice she looked at Laura with the most tragic eyes, but 
as soon as Laura approached her she would hastily bury 
herself in her newspaper, or begin counting the stitches 
of her knitting. 

At last, after luncheon, Mrs. Fountain suddenly threw 


down her work with a sigh that shook her small person 
from top to toe. 

1 1 wish I knew what was wrong with you,' said 
Laura, coming up behind her, and dropping a pair of soft 
hands on her shoulders. ' Shall I get you your new 
tonic ? ' 

' No 1 ' said Augustina, pettishly ; then, with a rush of 
words that she could not repress : 

' Laura, you must you positively must give up that 
young man.' 

Laura came round and seated herself on the fender- 
stool in front of her stepmother. 

' Oh ! so that's it. Has anybody else been gossiping ? ' 

1 1 do wish you wouldn't you wouldn't take things 
so coolly ! ' cried Augustina. ' I tell you, the least trifle is 
enough to do a young girl of your age harm. Your 
father would have been so annoyed.' 

' I don't think so,' said Laura, quietly. ' But who is 
it now ? The Eeverend Mother ? ' 

Augustina hesitated. She had been recommended to 
keep things to herself. But she had no will to set 
against Laura's, and she was, in fact, bursting with 
suppressed remonstrance. 

' It doesn't matter, my dear. One never knows 
where a story of that kind will go to. That's just what 
girls don't remember.' 

'Who told a story, and what? I didn't see the 
Eeverend Mother at the dance.' 

' Laura ! But you never thought, my dear you never 
knew that there was a cousin of Father Bowies' there 
the man who keeps that little Catholic shop in Market 
Street. That's what comes, you see, of going to parties 
with people beneath you.' 

' Oh ! a cousin of Father Bowles was there ? ' said 
Laura slowly. ' Well, did he make a pretty tale ? ' 


' Laura ! you are the most provoking You don't 

the least understand what people think. How could you 
go with him when everybody remonstrated ? ' 

' Nobody remonstrated,' said the girl sharply. 

1 His sister begged you not to go.' 

' His sister did nothing of the kind. She was staying 
the night in the village, and there was literally nothing 
for me to do but come home with Hubert or to throw 
myself on some stranger.' 

' And such stories as one hears about this dreadful 
young man ! ' cried Augustina. 

' I dare say. There are always stories.' 

' I couldn't even tell you what they are about ! ' said 
Augustina. ' Your father would certainly have forbidden 
it altogether.' 

There was a silence. Laura held her head as high as 
ever. She was, in fact, in a fever of contradiction and 
resentment, and the interference of people like Mrs. 
Denton and the Sisters was fast bringing about 
Mason's forgiveness. Naturally, she was likely to hear 
the worst of him in that house. What Helbeck, or what 
dependent on a Helbeck, would give him the benefit of 
any doubt ? 

Augustina knitted with all her might for a few minutes, 
and then looked up. 

' Don't you think,' she said, with a timid change of 
tone ' don't you think, dear, you might go to Cambridge 
for a few weeks ? I am sure the Friedlands would take 
you in. You would come in for all the parties, and and 
you needn't trouble about me. Sister Angela's niece 
could come and stay here for a few weeks. The 
Beverend Mother told me so.' 

Laura rose. 

' Sister Angela suggested that ? Thank you, I won't 
have my plans settled for me by Sister Angela. If you 


and Mr. Helbeck want to turn me out, why, of course I 
shall go.' 

Augustina held out her hands in terror at the girl's 
attitude and voice. 

' Laura, don't say such things ! As if you weren't an 
angel to me ! As if I could bear the thought of anybody 
else ! ' 

A quiver ran through Laura's features. ' Well, then, 
don't bear it,' she said, kneeling down again beside her 
stepmother. ' You look quite ill and excited, Augustina. 
I think we'll keep the Eeverend Mother out in future. 
Won't you lie down and let me cover you up ? ' 

So it ended for the time with physical weakness on 
Augustina's part, and caresses on Laura's. 

But when she was alone, Miss Fountain sat down 
and tried to think things out. 

' What are the Sisters meddling for ? Do they find 
me in their way ? I'm flattered ! I wish I was. Well ! 
is drunkenness the worst thing in the world?' she 
asked herself deliberately. ' Of course, if it goes beyond 
a certain point it is like madness you must keep out of 
its way, for your own sake. But papa used to say there 
were many things a great deal worse. So there are! 
meanness, and shuffling with truth for the sake of your 
soul. As for the other tales, I don't believe them. But 
if I did, I am not going to marry him ! ' 

She felt herself very wise. In truth, as Stephen 
Fountain had realised with some anxiety before his death, 
among Laura's many ignorances, none was so complete or 
so dangerous as her ignorance of all the ugly ground facts 
that are strewn round us, for the stumbling of mankind. 
She was as determined not to know them, as he was 
invincibly shy of telling them. 

For the rest, her reflections represented, no doubt, 
many dicta that in the course of her young life she had 


heard from her father. To Stephen Fountain the whole 
Christian doctrine of sin was ' the enemy ' ; and the 
mystical hatred of certain actions and habits, as such, 
was the fount of half the world's unreason. 

The following day it was Father Bowles's turn. He 
came over in what seemed to be his softest and most 
catlike mood, rubbing his hands over his chest in a 
constant glee at his own jokes. He was amiability itself 
to Laura. But he, too, had his twenty minutes alone 
with Augustina ; and afterwards Mrs. Fountain ventured 
once more to speak to Laura of change and amusement. 
Miss Fountain smiled, and replied as before that, in 
the first place, she had no invitations, and in the next, she 
had no dresses. But again, as before if Mr. Helbeck 
should express a wish that her visit to Bannisdale should 
come to an end, that would be another matter. 

Next morning Laura was taking a walk in the park, 
when a letter was brought to her by old Wilson, the 
groom, cowman, and general factotum. 

She took it to a sheltered nook by the riverside and 
read it. It was from Hubert Mason, in his best com- 
mercial hand, and it ran as follows : 

' Dear Miss Fountain, You would not allow me, I 
know, to call you cousin Laura any more, so I don't 
attempt it. And of course I don't deserve it nor that 
you should ever shake hands with me again. I can't get 
over thinking of what I've done. Mother and Polly will 
tell you that I have hardly slept at nights for of course 
you won't believe me. How I can have been such a 
blackguard I don't understand. I must have taken too 
much. All I know is it didn't seem much, and but for the 
agitation of my mind, I don't believe anything would ever 
have gone wrong. But I couldn't bear to see you 
dancing with that man and despising me. And there it 


is I can never get over it, and you will never forgive 
me. I feel I can't stay here any more, and mother has 
consented at last to let me have some money on the 
Farm. If I could just see you before I go, to say good- 
bye, and ask your pardon, there would be a better chance 
for me. I can't come to Mr. Helbeck's house, of course, 
and I don't suppose you would come here. I shall be 
coming home from Kirby Whardale fair to-morrow night, 
and shall be crossing the little bridge in the park upper 
end some time between eight and nine. But I know 
you won't be there. I can't expect it, and I feel it pretty 
badly, I can tell you. I did hope I might have become 
something better through knowing you. Whatever you 
may think of me, I am always 

1 Your respectful and humble cousin, 


' Well upon my word ! ' said Laura. She threw the 
letter on to the grass beside her, and sat, with her hands 
round her knees, staring at the river, in a sparkle of anger 
and amazement. 

What audacity ! to expect her to steal out at night 
in the dusk, any way to meet him him I She fed her 
wrath on the imagination of all the details that would 
belong to such an escapade. It would be after supper, of 
course, in the fast lengthening twilight. Helbeck and his 
sister would be in the drawing-room for Mr. Helbeck was 
expected home on the following day and she might 
perfectly well leave them, as she often did, to talk their 
little Catholic gossip by themselves, and then slip out by 
the chapel passage and door, through the old garden, to 
the gate in the wall above the river bank, and so to the 
road that led along the Greet through the upper end of the 
park. Nothing, of course, could be easier nothing ! 

Merely to think of it, for a girl of Laura's tempera- 


ment, was already bit by bit to incline to it. She began 
to turn it over, to taste the adventure of it to talk very 
fast to Fricka, under her breath, with little gusts of 
laughter. And no doubt there was something mollifying 
in the boy's humble expressions. As for his sleepless 
nights how salutary ! how very salutary ! Only the 
nail must be driven in deeper must be turned in the 

It would need a vast amount of severity, perhaps, to 
undo the effects of her mere obedience to his call sup- 
posing she made up her mind to obey it. Well ! she 
would be quite equal to severity. She would speak very 
plain things to him very plain things indeed. It was 
her first serious adventure with any of these big, foolish, 
troublesome creatures of the male sex, and she rose to it 
much as Helbeck might have risen to the playing of a 
salmon in the Greet. Yes ! he should say good-bye to 
her, let priests and nuns talk what scandal they pleased. 
Yes ! he should go on his way forgiven and admonished 
if he wished it for kindred's sake. 

Her cheek burned, her heart beat fast. He and she 
were of one blood both of them ill-regarded by aristocrats 
and holy Eomans. As for him, he was going to ruin at 
home ; and there was in him this strange, artistic gift to 
be thought for and rescued. He had all the faults of the 
young cub. Was he to be wholly disowned for that? 
Was she to cast him off for ever at the mere bidding of 
the Helbecks and their friends ? 

He would never, of course, be allowed to enter the 
Bannisdale drawing-room, and she had no intention at 
present of going to Browhead Farm. Well, then, under 
the skies and the clouds ! A gracious pardon, an appro- 
priate lecture and a short farewell. 

All that day and the next Laura gave herself to her 


whim. She was perfectly conscious meanwhile that it 
was a reckless and a wilful thing that she was planning. 
She liked it none the less for that. In fact, the scheme 
was the final crystallisation of all that bitterness of mood 
that had poisoned and tormented her ever since her first 
coming to Bannisdale. And it gave her for the moment 
the morbid pleasure that all angry people get from letting 
loose the angry word or act. 

Meanwhile she became more and more conscious of a 
certain network of blame and discussion that seemed to 
be closing about her and her actions. It showed itself by 
a number of small signs. When she went into Whinthorpe 
to shop for Augustina she fancied that the assistants in 
the shop, and even the portly draper himself, looked at 
her with a sly curiosity. The girl's sore pride grew more 
unmanageable hour by hour. If there was some ill- 
natured gossip about her, going the round in the town and 
neighbourhood, had she tih 1 now given the least shadow 
of excuse for it ? Not the least shade of a shadow ! 

Mr. Helbeck, his sister, and Laura were in the drawing- 
room after supper. Laura had been observing Mrs. 
Fountain closely. 

' She is longing to have her talk with him,' thought the 
girl ; ' and she shall have it as much as she likes.' 

The shutters were not yet closed, and the room, with 
its crackling logs, was filled with a gentle mingled light. 
The sun, indeed, was gone, but the west still glowed, and 
the tall larches in the front enclosure stood black against 
a golden dome of sky. Laura rose and left the room. 
As she opened the door she caught Augustina's quick 
look of relief and the drop of the knitting-needles. 

Fricka was safely prisoned upstairs. Laura slipped 
on a hat and a dark cloak that were hanging in the hall, 
and ran down the passage leading to the chapel. The 


heavy seventeenth-century door at the end of it took her 
some trouble to open without noise, but it was done at 
last, and she was in the old garden. 

Her little figure in its cloak, among the dark yews, 
was hardly to be seen in the dusk. The garden was 
silence itself, and the gate in the wall was open. Once 
on the road beside the river she could hardly restrain 
herself from running, so keen was the air, so free and 
wide the evening solitude. All things were at peace ; 
nothing moved but a few birds and the tiniest inter- 
mittent breeze. Overhead, great thunderclouds kept the 
sunset ; beneath, the blues of the evening were all inter- 
woven with rose ; so, too, were the wood and sky reflections 
in the gently moving water. In some of the pools the 
trout were still lazily rising ; pigeons and homing rooks 
were slowly passing through the clear space that lay 
between the tree-tops and the just emerging stars ; and 
once Laura stopped, holding her breath, thinking that she 
saw through the dusk the blue flash of a kingfisher 
making for a nest she knew. Even in this dimmed light 
the trees had the May magnificence all but the oaks, which 
still dreamed of a best to come. Here and there a few 
tufts of primroses, on the bosom of the crag above the 
river, lonely and self-sufficing, like all loveliest things, 
starred the dimness of the rock. 

Laura's feet danced beneath her ; the evening beauty 
and her passionate response flowed as it were into each 
other, made one beating pulse ; never, in spite of qualms 
and angers, had she been more physically happy, more 
alive. She passed the seat where she and Helbeck had 
lingered on Easter Sunday ; then she struck into a path 
high above the river, under spreading oaks ; and presently 
a little bridge came in sight, with some steps in the crag 
leading down to it. 

At the near end of the bridge, thrown out into the river 


a little way, for the convenience of fishermen, was a small 
wooden platform, with a railing, which held a seat. The 
seat was well hidden under the trees and bank, and Laura 
settled herself there. 

She had hardly waited five minutes, absorbed in the 
sheer pleasure of the rippling river and the soft air, when 
she heard steps approaching the bank. Looking up, she 
saw Mason's figure against the sky. He paused at the 
top of the rocky staircase, to scan the bridge and its 
approaches. Not seeing her, he threw up his hand, with 
some exclamation that she could not hear. 

She smiled and rose. 

As her small form became visible, between the paleness 
of the wooden platform and a luminous patch in the river, 
she heard a cry, then a hurrying down the rock steps. 

He stopped about a yard from her. She did not offer 
her hand, and after an instant's pause, during which his 
eyes tried to search her face in the darkness, he took off 
his hat and drew his hand across his brow with a deep 

' I never thought you'd come,' he said, huskily. 

' Well, certainly you had no business to ask me ! 
And I can only stay a very few minutes. Suppose you 
sit down there.' 

She pointed to one of the rock steps, while she settled 
herself again on the seat, some little distance away from 

Then there was an awkward silence, which Laura 
took no trouble to break. Mason broke it at last in 

' You know that I'm an awful hand at saying anything, 
Miss Miss Fountain. I can't so it's no good. But 
I've got my lesson. I've had a pretty rough time of it, I 
can tell you, since last week.' 

'You behaved about as badly as you could didn't 


you?' said Laura's soft yet cutting voice out of the 

Mason fidgeted. 

1 1 can't make it no better,' he said at last. ' There's 
no saying I can, for I can't. And if I did give you 
excuses, you'd not believe 'em. There was a devil got 
hold of me that evening that's the truth on't. And it 
was only a glass or two I took. Well, there ! I'd have 
cut my hand off sooner.' 

His tone of miserable humility began to affect her 
rather strangely. It was not so easy to drive in the nail. 

1 You needn't be so repentant/ she said, with a little 
shrinking laugh. 'One has to forget everything in 
good time. You've given Whinthorpe people something 
to talk about at my expense for which I am not at all 
obliged to you. You nearly killed me, which doesn't 
matter. And you behaved disgracefully to Mr. Helbeck. 
But it's done and now you've got to make up somehow.' 

1 Has he made you pay for it since ? ' said Mason, 

'He? Mr. Helbeck?' She laughed. Then she 
added, with all the severity she could muster, ' He treated 
me in a most kind and gentlemanly way if you want to 
know. The great pity is that you and Cousin Elizabeth 
understand nothing at all about him.' 

He groaned. She could hear his feet restlessly 

' Well and now you are going to Froswick,' she re- 
sumed. ' What are you going to do there ? ' 

' There's an uncle of mine in one of the shipbuilding 
yards there. He's got leave to take me into the fitting 
department. If I suit he'll get me into the office. It's 
what I've wanted this two years.' 

' Well, now you've got it,' she said impatiently, ' don't 
be dismal. You have your chance.' 



1 Yes, and I don't care a haporth about it,' he said, 
with sudden energy, throwing his head up and bringing 
his fist down on his knee. 

She felt her power, and liked it. But she hurried to 
answer : 

' Oh ! yes you do ! If you're a man, you must. You'll 
learn a lot of new things you'll keep straight, because 
you'll have plenty to do. Why, it will "hatch you over 
again, and hatch you different," as somebody said. 
You'll see.' 

He looked at her, trying hard to catch her expression 
in the dusk. 

' And if I do come back different, perhaps perhaps 
soom day you'll not be ashamed to be seen wi' me ? Look 
here, Miss Laura. From the first time I set eyes on you 
from that day you came up that Sunday I haven't been 
able to settle to a thing. I felt, right enough, I wasn't fit 
to speak to you. And yet I'm your well, your kith and 
kin, doan't you see ? There can't be no such tremendous 
gap atween us as all that. If I can just manage myself 
a bit, and find the work that suits me, and get away 
from these fellows here, and this beastly farm ' 

' Ah ! have you been quarrelling with Daffady all 

She looked for him to fly out. But he only stared, 
and then turned away. 

' Lord ! what's the good of talking ? ' he said, with 
an accent that startled her. 

She rose from her seat. 

' Are you sorry I came to talk to you ? You didn't 
deserve it did you ? ' 

Her voice was the pearliest, most musical, and yet 
most distant of things. He rose, too held by it. 

' And now you must just go and make a man of your- 
self. That's what you have to do you see? I wish 


papa was alive. He'd tell you how I can't. But if you 
forget your music, it'll be a sin and if you send me your 
song to write out for you, I'll do it. And tell Polly I'll 
come and see her again some day. Now good-night! 
They'll be locking up if I don't hurry home.' 

But he stood on the step, barring the way. 

1 1 say, give me something to take with me,' he said, 
hoarsely. ' What's that in your hat ? ' 

' In my hat ? ' she said, laughing (but if there had 
been light he would have seen that her lips had paled). 
* Why, a bunch of buttercups. I bought them at Whin- 
thorpe yesterday.' 

' Give me one,' he said. 

' Give you a sham buttercup ? What nonsense ! ' 

1 It's better than nothing,' he said doggedly, and he 
held out his hand. 

She hesitated ; then she took off her hat and quietly 
loosened one of the flowers. Her golden hair shone in 
the dimness. Mason never took his eyes off her little 
head. He was keeping a grip on himself that was 
taxing a whole new set of powers straining the lad's 
unripe nature in wholly new ways. 

She put the flower in his hand. 

' There ; now we're friends again, aren't we ? Let me 
pass, please and good-night ! ' 

He moved to one side, blindly fighting with the 
impulse to throw his powerful arms round her and keep 
her there, or carry her across the bridge at his pleasure. 

But her light fearlessness mastered him. He let her 
go; he watched her figure on the steps, against the 
moonlight between the oaks overhead, 

1 Good-night ! ' she dropped again, already far away 
far above him. 

The young man felt a sob in his throat. 

* My God ! I sha'n't ever see her again,' he said to 



himself in a sudden terror. ' She is going to that house 
to that man ! ' 

For the first time a wild jealousy of Helbeck awoke 
in him. He rushed across the bridge, dropped on a stone 
halfway up the further bank, then str lined his eyes across 
the river. 

. . . Yes, there she passed, a swift moving whiteness, 
among the great trees that stood like watchmen along the 
high edge of the water. Below him flowed the stream, a 
gulf of darkness, rent here and there by sheets and jags of 
silver. And she, that pale wraith across it far away 
was flitting from his ken. 

All the fountains of the youth's nature surged up in 
one great outcry and confusion. He thought of his boyish 
loves and sensualities of the girls who had provoked 
them of some of the ugly facts connected with them. 
A great astonishment, a great sickening, came upon him. 
He felt the burden of the flesh, the struggle of the spirit. 
And through it all, the maddest and most covetous yearn- 
ing! welling up through schemes and hopes, that like 
the moonlit ripples on the Greet, dissolved as fast as they 
took shape 

Meanwhile Laura went quickly home. A new tender- 
ness, a new remorse towards the ' cub ' was in the girl's 
mind. Ought she to have gone ? Had she been kind ? 
Oh ! she would be his friend and good angel without - 
any nonsense, of course. 

She hurried through the trees and along the dimly 
gleaming path. Suddenly she perceived in the distance 
the sparkle of a lantern. 

How vexatious ! Was there no escape for her ? 
She looked in some trouble at the climbing woods above, 
at the steep bank below. 


Ah ! well, her hat was large, and hid her face. And 
her dress was all covered by her cloak. She hastened on. 

It was a man an old man carrying a bundle and a 
lantern. He seemed to waver and stop as she approached 
him, and at the actual moment of her passing him, to 
her amazement, he suddenly threw himself against one 
of the trees on the mountain side of the path, and his 
lantern showed her his face for an instant a white face, 
stricken with fear, was it ? or what ? 

Fright gained upon herself. She ran on, and as she 
ran it seemed to her that she heard something fall with a 
clang, and, afterwards, a cry. She looked back. The 
old man was still there, erect, but his light was gone. 

Well, no doubt he had dropped his lantern. Let 
him light it again. It was no concern of hers. 

Here was the door in the wall. It opened to her 
touch. She glided in across the garden found the 
chapel door ajar, and in a few more seconds was safe in 
her own room. 



LAURA was standing before her looking-glass, straightening 
the curls that her rapid walk had disarranged, when her 
attention was caught by certain unusual sounds in the 
house. There was a hurrying of distant feet calls, as 
though from the kitchen region and lastly, the deep 
voice of Mr. Helbeck. Miss Fountain paused, brush in 
hand, wondering what had happened. 

A noise of fluttering skirts, and a cry for ' Laura ! ' 
Miss Fountain opened her door, and saw Augustina, who 
never ran, hurrying as fast as her feebleness would let 
her, towards her stepdaughter. 

'Laura! where is my sal volatile? You gave me 
some yesterday, you remember, for my headache. There's 
somebody ill, downstairs.' 

She paused for breath. 

' Here it is,' said Laura, finding the bottle, and bringing 
it. ' What's wrong ? ' 

' Oh, my dear, such an adventure ! There's an old 
man fainted in the kitchen. He came to the back-door to 
ask for a light for his lantern. Mrs. Denton says he was 
shaking all over when she first saw him, and as white as 
her apron. He told her he'd seen the ghost ! " I've often 
heard tell o' the Bannisdale Lady," he said, "an now 
I've seen her ! " She asked him to sit down a minute to 
rest himself, and he fainted straight away. He's that old 
Scarsbrook, you know, whose wife does our washing. 


They live in that cottage by the weir, the other end of the 
park. I must go ! Mrs. Denton's giving him some brandy 
. and Alan's gone down. Isn't it an extraordinary 

'Very,' said Laura, accompanying her stepmother 
along the passage. ' What did he see ? ' 

She paused, laying a restraining hand on Augustina's 
arm cudgelling her brains the while. Yes ! she could 
remember now a few contemptuous remarks of Mr. 
Helbeck to Father Leadham on the subject of a ghost 
story that had sprung up during the Squire's memory in 
connection with the park and the house a quite modern 
story, according to Helbeck, turning on the common 
motive of a gipsy woman and her curse, started some 
forty years before this date, with a local success not 
a little offensive, apparently, to the owner of Bannis- 

1 What did he see ? ' repeated the girl. ' Don't hurry, 
Augustina ; you know the doctor told you not. Shall I 
take the sal volatile ? ' 

' Oh, no ! they want me." In any matter of doctoring 
small or great, Augustina had the happiest sense of her 
own importance. 'I don't know what he saw exactly. 
It was a lady, he says he knew it was, by the hat and 
the walk. She was all in black with " a Dolly Varden 
hat " fancy the old fellow ! that hid her face and a 
little white hand, that shot out sparks as he came up to 
her ! Did you ever hear such a tale ? Now, Laura, I'm 
all right. Let me go. Come when you like.' 

Augustina hurried off ; Laura was left standing pensive 
in the passage. 

' H'm, that's unlucky,' she said to herself. 

Then she looked down at her right hand. An old- 
fashioned diamond ring with a large centre stone, which 
had been her mother's, shone on the third finger. With 


an involuntary smile, she drew off the ring, and went back 
to her room. 

' What's to be done now ? ' she thought, as she put 
the ring in a drawer. ' Shall I go down and explain say 
I was out for a stroll ? ' She shook her head. ' Won't 
do now I should have had more presence of mind a 
minute ago. Augustina would suspect a hundred things. 
It's really dramatic. Shall I go down? He didn't see 
my face no, that I'll answer for ! Here's for it 1 ' 

She pulled out the golden mass of her hair till it 
made a denser frame than usual round her brow, looked 
at her white dress shook her head dubiously laughed 
at her own flushed face in the glass, and calmly went 

She found an anxious group in the great bare servants' 
hall. The old man, supported by pillows, was stretched 
on a wooden settle, with Helbeck, Augustina, and Mrs. 
Denton standing by. The first things she saw were the 
old peasant's closed eyes and pallid face then Helbeck's 
grave and puzzled countenance above him. The squire 
turned at Miss Fountain's step. Did she imagine it or 
was there a peculiar sharpness in his swift glance ? 

Mrs. Denton had just been administering a second 
dose of brandy, and was apparently in the midst of her 
own report to her master of Scarsbrook's story. 

' " I wor just aboot to pass her," he said, " when I 
nawticed 'at her feet made noa noise. She keam glidin 
an glidin an my hair stood reet oop it lifted t' whole 
top o' my yed. An she gaed passt me like a puff o' wind 
as cauld as ice an I wor mair deed nor alive. An I 
luked afther her, an she vanisht i' th' varra middle o' t' 
path. An my leet went oot an I durstn't ha gane on, 
if it wor iver so so I juist crawled back tet hoose " ' 

' The door in the wall ! ' thought Laura. ' He didn't 
know it was there.' 


She had remained in the background while Mrs. 
Den ton was speaking, but now she approached the settle. 
Mrs. Denton threw a sour look at her, and flounced out 
of her way. Helbeck silently made room for her. As 
she passed him, she felt instinctively that his distant 
politeness had become something more pronounced. He 
left her questions to Augustina to answer, and himself 
thrust his hands into his pockets and moved away. 

'Have you sent for any one?' said Laura to Mrs. 

'Yes. Wilson's gone in the pony-cart for the wife. 
And if he doesn't come round by the time she gets here 
some one will have to go for the doctor, Alan ? ' 

She looked round vaguely. 

' Of course. Wilson must go on,' said Helbeck from 
the distance. ' Or I'll go myself.' 

' But he is coming round,' said Laura, pointing. 

1 If yo'll nobbut move oot o' t' way, miss, we'll be able 
to get at im," said Mrs. Denton sharply. Laura hastily 
obeyed her. The housekeeper brought more brandy ; 
then signs of returning force grew stronger, and by the 
time the wife appeared the old fellow was feebly beginning 
to move and look about him. 

Amid the torrent of lamentations, questions, and hypo- 
theses that the wife poured forth, Laura withdrew into 
the background. But she could not prevail on herself to 
go. Daring or excitement held her there, till the old man 
should be quite himself again. 

He struggled to his feet at last, and said, with a long 
sigh that was still half a shudder, ' Aye noo I'll goa 
home Lisbeth.' 

He was a piteous spectacle as he stood there, still 
trembling through all his stunted frame, his wrinkled 
face drawn and bloodless, his grey hair in a tragic con- 
fusion. Suddenly, as he looked at his wife, he said 


with a clear solemnity, ' Lisbeth I ha got my death 
warrant ! ' 

' Don't say any such thing, Scarsbrook,' said Helbeck, 
coming forward to support him. ' You know I don't 
believe in this ghost business and never did. You saw 
some stranger in the park and she passed you too 
quickly for you to see where she went to. You may be 
sure that'll turn out to be the truth. You remember it's 
a public path anybody might be there. Just try and 
take that view of it and don't fret, for your wife's sake. 
We'll make inquiries, and I'll come and see you to-morrow. 
And as for death warrants, we're all in God's care, you 
know don't forget that.' 

He smiled with a kindly concern and pity on the old 
man. But Scarsbrook shook his head. 

' It wur t' Bannisdale Lady,' he repeated ; ' I've often 
heerd on her often and noo I've seen her.' 

'Well, to-morrow you'll be quite proud of it,' said 
Helbeck cheerfully. ' Come, and let me put you into the 
cart. I think, if we make a comfortable seat for you, 
you'll be fit to drive home now.' 

Supported by the squire's strong arm on one side, and 
his wife on the other, Scarsbrook managed to hobble 
down the long passage leading to the door in the inner 
courtyard, where the pony-cart was standing. It was 
evident that his perceptions were still wholly dazed. He 
had not recognised or spoken to any one in the room but 
the squire not even to his old crony, Mrs. Denton. 

Laura drew a long breath. 

' Augustina, do go to bed,' she said, going up to her 
stepmother ' or you'll be ill next.' 

Augustina allowed herself to be led upstairs. But it 
was long before she would let her stepdaughter leave 
her. She was full of supernatural terrors and excite- 
ments, and must talk about all the former appearances of 


the ghost the stories that used to be told in her child- 
hood the new or startling details in the old man's version, 
and so forth. ' What could he have meant by the light 
on the hand ? ' she said, wondering. ' I never heard of 
that before. And she used always to be in grey ; and 
now he says that she had a black dress from top to toe.' 

' Their wardrobes are so limited poor, damp, sloppy 
things ! ' said Laura flippantly, as she brushed her 
stepmother's hair. ' Do you suppose this nonsense will 
be all over the country side to-morrow, Augustina ? ' 

' What do you really think he saw, Laura ? ' cried 
Mrs. Fountain, wavering between doubt and belief. 

' Goodness ! don't ask me.' Miss Fountain shrugged 
her small shoulders. ' I don't keep a family ghost.' 

When at last Augustina had been settled in bed, and 
persuaded to take some of her sleeping medicine, Laura 
was bidding her good-night, when Mrs. Fountain said, 
' Oh ! I forgot, Laura there was a letter brought in for 
you from the post-office, by Wilson this afternoon he 
gave it to Mrs. Denton, and she forgot it till after 

dinner ' 

' Of course because it was mine,' said Laura vindic- 
tively. 'Where is it?' 

' On the drawing-room chimney-piece.' 
' All right. I'll go for it. But I shall be disturbing 
Mr. Helbeck.' 

' Oh ! no it's much too late. Alan will have gone to 
his study.' 

Miss Fountain stood a moment outside her stepmother's 
door, consulting her watch. 

For she was anxious to get her letter, and not at all 
anxious to fall in with Mr. Helbeck. At least, so she 
would have explained herself had any one questioned her. 
In fact, her wishes and intentions were in tumultuous 


confusion. All the time that she was waiting on 
Augustina her brain, her pulse was racing. In the 
added touch of stiffness which she had observed in 
Helbeck's manner, she easily divined the result of that 
conversation he had no doubt held with Augustina after 
dinner, while she was by the river. Did he think even 
worse of her than he had before ? Well ! if he and 
Augustina could do without her, let them send her away 
by all manner of means ! She had her own friends, 
her own money, was in all respects her own mistress, 
and only asked to be allowed to lead her life as she 

Nevertheless as she crossed the darkness of the hall, 
with her candle in her hand Laura Fountain was very 
near indeed to a fit of wild weeping. During the months 
following her father's death, these agonies of crying had 
come upon her night after night unseen by any human 
being. She felt now the approach of an old enemy, and 
struggled with it. 'One mustn't have this excitement 
every night ! ' she said to herself, half mocking. ' No 
nerves would stand it.' 

A light under the library door. Well and good. 
How she wondered did he occupy himself there, 
through so many solitary hours ? Once or twice 
she had heard him come upstairs to bed, and never 
before one or two o'clock. 

Suddenly she stood abashed. She had thrown open 
the drawing-room door, and the room lay before her, 
almost in darkness. One dim lamp still burnt at the 
further end, and in the middle of the room stood Mr. 
Helbeck, arrested in his walk to and fro, and the picture 
of astonishment. 

Laura drew back in real discomfiture. ' Oh, I beg 
your pardon, Mr. Helbeck ! I had no notion that any one 
was still here.' 


'Is there anything I can do for you,' he said, ad- 

'Augustina told me there was a letter for me this 

' Of course. It is here on the mantelpiece. I ought to 
have remembered it.' 

He took up the letter and held it towards her. Then 
suddenly he paused and sharply withdrawing it, he placed 
it on a table beside him, and laid his hand upon it. She 
saw a flash of quick resolution in his face, and her own 
pulses gave a throb. 

'Miss Fountain will you excuse my detaining you 
for a moment? I have been thinking much about this 
old man's story, and the possible explanation of it. It 
struck me in a very singular way. As you know, I have 
never paid much attention to the ghost story here we 
have never before had a testimony so direct. Is it possible 
that you might throw some light upon it ? You left us, 
you remember, after dinner. Did you by chance go into the 
garden ? the evening was tempting, I think. If so, your 
memory might possibly recall to you some slight thing.' 

' Yes,' she said, after a moment's hesitation, ' I did go 
into the garden.' 

His eye gleamed. He came a step nearer. 

1 Did you see or hear anything to explain what 
happened ? ' 

She did not answer for a moment. She made a vague 
movement, as though to recover her letter looked 
curiously into a glass case that stood beside her, containing 
a few Stuart relics and autographs. Then, with absolute 
self-possession, she turned and confronted him, one hand 
resting on the glass case. 

' Yes I can explain it all. I was the ghost ! ' 

There was a moment's silence. A smile a smile that 
she winced under, showed itself on Helbeck's lip. 


'I imagined as much/ he said quietly. 

She stood there, torn by different impulses. Then a 
passion of annoyance with herself, and anger with him, 
descended on her. 

'Now perhaps you would like to know why I con- 
cealed it ? ' she said, with ah 1 the dignity she could com- 
mand. ' Simply because I had gone out to meet and say 
good-bye to a person who is my relation whom I cannot 
meet in this house, and against whom there is here an 
unreasonable' She hesitated; then resumed, leaning 
obstinately on the words ' Yes ! take it all hi all, it is an 
unreasonable prejudice ! ' 

' You mean Mr. Hubert Mason ? ' 

She nodded. 

'You think it an unreasonable prejudice after what 
happened the other night ? ' 

She wavered. 

'I don't want to defend what happened the other 
night,' she said, while her voice shook. 

Helbeck observed her carefully. There was a great 
decision in his manner, and at the same time a fine 

'You knew, then, that he was to be in the park? 
Forgive my questions. They are not mere curiosity.' 

' Perhaps not,' she said indifferently. ' But I think I 
have told you all that needs to be told. May I have my 

She stepped forward. 

' One moment. I wonder, Miss Fountain/ he chose 
his words slowly ' if I could make you understand my 
position. It is this. My sister brings a young lady, her 
stepdaughter, to stay under my roof. That young lady 
happens to be connected with a family in this neighbour- 
hood, which is already well known to me. For some of 
its members I have nothing but respect about one I 


happen to have a strong opinion. I have reasons for my 
opinion. I imagine that very few people of any way of 
thinking would hold me either unreasonable or prejudiced 
in the matter. Naturally, it gives me some concern that 
a young lady towards whom I feel a certain responsibility, 
should be much seen with this young man. He is not 
her equal socially, and pardon me she knows nothing 
at all about the type to which he belongs. Indirectly I 
try to warn her. I speak to my sister as gently as I can. 
But from the first she rejects all I have to say she gives 
me credit for no good intention and she will have none 
of my advice. At last a disagreeable incident happens 
and unfortunately the knowledge of it is not confined to 
ourselves ' 

Laura threw him a flashing look. 

' No ! there are people who have taken care of that ! ' 
she said. 

Helbeck took no notice. 

' It is known not only to ourselves,' he repeated steadily. 
' It starts gossip. My sister is troubled. She asks you 
to put an end to this state of things, and she consults me, 
feeling that indeed we are all in some way concerned.' 

' Oh, say at once that I have brought scandal on you 
all ! ' cried Laura, ' That of course is what Sister Angela 
and Father Bowles have been saying to Augustina. They 
are pleased to show the greatest anxiety about me so 
much so, that they most kindly wish to relieve me of the 
charge of Augustina. So I understand! But I fear I 
am neither docile nor grateful! that I never shall be 
grateful ' 

Helbeck interrupted. 

' Let us come to that presently. I should like to finish 
my story. While my sister and I are consulting, trying 
to think of all that can be done to stop a foolish talk and 
undo an unlucky incident, this same young lady' his 


voice took a cold clearness ' steals out by night to keep 
an appointment with this man, who has already done 
her so great a disservice. Now I should like to ask her, if 
all this is kind is reasonable is generous towards the 
persons with whom she is at present living if such 
conduct is not ' he paused ' unwise towards herself 
unjust towards others.' 

His words came out with a strong and vibrating 
emphasis. Laura confronted him with crimson cheeks. 

' I think that will do, Mr. Helbeck ! ' she cried. ' You 
have had your say. Now just let me say this These 
people were my relations I have no other kith and kin 
in the world.' 

He made a quick step forward as though in distress. 
But she put up her hand. 

' I want very much to say this, please. I knew perfectly 
well when I came here that you couldn't like the Masons 
for many reasons.' Her voice broke again. ' You never 
liked Augustina's marriage you weren't likely to want to 
see anything of papa's people. I didn't ask you to see 
them. All my standards and theirs are different from 
yours. But I prefer theirs not yours ! I have nothing 
to do with yours. I was brought up well, to hate yours 
if one rnust tell the truth.' 

She paused, half suffocated, her chest heaving. 
Helbeck's glance enveloped her took in the contrast 
between her violent words and the shrinking delicacy of 
her small form. A great melting stole over the man's 
dark face. But he spoke dryly enough. 

' I imagine the standards of Protestants and Catholics 
are pretty much alike in matters of this kind. But don't 
let us waste time any more over what has already 
happened. I should like, I confess, to plead with you as 
to the future.' 

He looked at her kindly, even entreatingly. All 


through this scene she had been unwillingly, angrily 
conscious of his personal dignity and charm a dignity 
that seemed to emerge in moments of heightened action 
or feeling, and to slip out of sight again under the absent 
hermit-manner of his ordinary life. She was smarting 
under his words ready to concentrate a double passion 
of resentment upon them, as soon as she should be alone 

and free to recall them. And yet 

' As to the future,' she said coldly. ' That is simple 
enough as far as one person is concerned. Hubert Mason 
is going to Froswick immediately, into business.' 

' I am glad to hear it it will be very much for his 

He stopped a moment, searching for the word of per- 
suasion and conciliation. 

' Miss Fountain ! if you imagine that certain incidents 
which happened here long before you came into this neigh- 
bourhood had anything to do with what I have been saying 
now, let me assure you most earnestly that it is not so ! 
I recognise fully that with regard to a certain case of 
which you may have heard the Masons and their friends 
honestly believed that wrong and injustice had been 
done. They attempted personal violence. I can hardly 
be expected to think it argument ! But I bear them no 
malice. I say this because you may have heard of some- 
thing that happened three or four years ago a row in 
the streets, when Father Bowles and I were set upon. 
It has never weighed with me hi the slightest, and I 
could have shaken hands with old Mason who was in 
the crowd, and refused to stop the stone-throwing the 
day after. As for Mrs. Mason ' he looked up with a 
smile 'if she could possibly have persuaded herself to 
come with her daughter and see you here, my welcome 
would not have been wanting. But, you know, she 
would as soon visit Gehenna ! Nobody could be more 



conscious than I, Miss Fountain, that this is a dreary 
house for a young lady to live in and ' 

The colour mounted into his face, but he did not 
shrink from what he meant to say. 

' And you have made us all feel that you regard the 
practices and observances by which we try to fill and 
inspire our lives, as mere hateful folly and superstition ! ' 
He checked himself. ' Is that too strong ? ' he added, 
with a sudden eagerness. 'If so, I apologise for and 
withdraw it ! ' 

Laura, for a moment, was speechless. Then she 
gathered her forces, and said, with a voice she in vain 
tried to compose : 

' I think you exaggerate, Mr. Helbeck ; at any rate, 
I hope you do. But the fact is, I I ought not to have 
tried to bear it. Considering all that had happened at 
home it was more than I had strength for! And 
perhaps no good will come of going on with it and it 
had better cease. Mr. Helbeck! if your Superior can 
really find a good nurse and companion at once, will you 
kindly communicate with her ? I will go to Cambridge 
immediately, as soon as I can arrange with my friends. 
Augustina, no doubt, will come and stay with me some- 
where at the sea, later on in the year.' 

Helbeck had been listening to her to the sharp 
determination of her voice in total silence. He was 
leaning against the high mantelpiece, and his face was 
hidden from her. As she ceased to speak, he turned, and 
his mere aspect beat down the girl's anger in a moment. 
He shook his head sadly. 

' Dr. MacBride stopped me on the bridge yesterday, as 
he was coming away from the house.' 

Laura drew back. Her eyes fastened upon him. 

'He thinks her in a serious state. We are not to 
alarm her, or interfere with her daily habits. There is 


valvular disease as I think you know and it has 
advanced. Neither he nor any one can forecast.' 

The girl's head fell. She recognised that the contest 
was over. She could not go ; she could not leave Augus- 
tina ; and the inference was clear. There had not been a 
word of menace, but she understood. Mr. Helbeck's will 
must prevail. She had brought this humiliating half- 
hour on herself and she would have to bear the con- 
sequences of it. She moved towards Helbeck. 

' Well then, I must stay/ she said huskily, ' and 
I must try to to remember where I am in future. I 
ought to be able to hide everything I feel of course ! 
But that unfortunately is what I never learnt. And 
there are some ways of life that that are too far apart. 
However 1 ' she raised her hand to her brow, frowned, 
and thought a little ' I can't make any promise about 
my cousins, Mr. Helbeck. I know perfectly well what- 
ever may be said that I have done nothing whatever to 
be ashamed of. I have wanted to to help my cousin. 
He is worth helping in spite of everything and I will 
help him, if I can ! But if I am to remain your guest, 
I see that I must consult your wishes ' 

Helbeck tried again to stop her with a gesture, but she 
hurried on. 

' As far as this house and neighbourhood are concerned, 
no one shall have any reason to talk.' 

Then she threw her head back with a sudden flush. 

1 Of course, if people are born to say and think ill- 
natured things ! like Mrs. Denton ' 

Helbeck exclaimed. 

'I will see to that,' he said. 'You shall have no 
reason to complain, there.' 

Laura shrugged her shoulders. 

' Will you kindly give me my letter ? ' 

As he handed it to her, she made him a little bow, 



walked to the door before he could open it for her, and 
was gone. 

Helbeck turned back, with a smothered exclama- 
tion. He put the lamps out, and went slowly to his 

As the master of Bannisdale closed the door of his 
library behind him, the familiar room produced upon 
him a sharp and singular impression. The most sacred 
and the most critical hours of his life had been passed 
within its walls. As he entered it now, it seemed to 
repulse him, to be no longer his. 

The room was not large. It was the old library of 
the house, and the Helbecks in their palmiest days had 
never been a literary race. There was a little seventeenth 
century theology ; and a few English classics. There were 
the French books of Helbeck's grandmother ' Madame,' 
as she was always known at Bannisdale ; and amongst them 
the worn brown volumes of St. Fra^ois de Sales, with the 
yellowish paper slips that Madame had put in to mark her 
favourite passages, somewhere in the days of the First 
Empire. Near by were some stray military volumes, 
treatises on tactics and fortification, that had belonged to a 
dashing young officer in the Dillon Eegiment, close to some 
' Epltres Amoureuses,' a translation of ' Daphnis and 
Chloe,' and the like all now sunk together into the same 
dusty neglect. 

On the wall above Helbeck's writing-table were ranged 
the books that had been his mother's, together with those 
that he himself habitually used. Here every volume was 
an old friend, a familiar tool. Alan Helbeck was neither a 
student nor a man of letters ; but he had certain passionate 
prejudices, instincts, emotions, of which some books were 
the source and sustenance. 

For the rest during some years he had been a 


member of the Third Order of St. Francis, and in its 
other features the room was almost the room of a 
religious. A prie-dieu stood against the inner wall, and 
a crucifix hung above it. A little further on was a small 
altar of St. Joseph with its pictures, its statuette, and its 
candles ; and a poor lithograph of Pio Nono looked down 
from the mantelpiece. The floor was almost bare, save 
for a few pieces of old matting here and there. The 
worn Turkey carpet that had formerly covered it had 
been removed to make the drawing-room comfortable for 
Augustina ; so had most of the chairs. Those left were 
of the straightest and hardest. 

In that dingy room, however, Helbeck had known the 
most blessed, the most intimate moments of the spiritual 
life. To-night he entered it with a strange sense of 
wrench of mortal discouragement. Mechanically he 
went to his writing-table, and, sitting down before it, he 
took a key from his watch-chain and opened a large 
locked note-book that lay upon it. 

The book contained a number of written meditations, 
a collection of passages and thoughts, together with some 
faded photographs of his mother, and of his earliest Jesuit 
teachers at Stonyhurst. 

On the last page was a paragraph that only the night 
before he had copied from one of his habitual books of 
devotion copying it as a spiritual exercise making 
himself dwell upon every word of it. 

' When shall I desire Thee alone feed on Thee alone 
my Delight, my only good I my loving and 
almighty Lord I free now this wretched heart from every 
attachment, from every earthly affection ; adorn it with 
Thy holy virtues, and with a pure intention of doing all 
things to please Thee, that so I may open it to Thee, and 
with gentle violence compel Thee to come in, that Thou, 
Lord, mayest work therein without resistance all those 


effects which from all Eternity Thou hast desired to 
produce in me.' 

He lingered a little on the words, his face buried in his 
hands. Then slowly he turned back to an earlier page 

' Man must use creatures as being in themselves in- 
different. He must not be under their power, but use 
them for his own purpose, his own first and chief est 
purpose, the salvation of his soul.' 

A shudder passed through him. He rose hastily from 
his seat, and began to pace the room. He had already 
passed through a wrestle of the same kind, and had gone 
away to fight down temptation. To-night the struggle 
was harder. The waves of rising passion broke through 

' Little pale, angry face ! I gave her a scolding like a 
child what joy to have forgiven her like a child ! to 
have asked her pardon in return to have felt the soft 
head against my breast. She was very fierce with me 
she hates me, I suppose. And yet she is not in-; 
different to me ! she knows when I am there. Down- 
stairs she was conscious of me all through I knew it. 
Her secret was in her face. I guessed it foolish child 
from the first moment. Strange, stormy nature ! I 
see it all her passion for her father, and for these peasants 
as belonging to him her hatred of me and of our faith, 
because her father hated us her feeling for Augustina 
that rigid sense of obligation she has, just on the two or 
three points points of natural affection. It is this sense, 
perhaps, that makes the soul of her struggle with this 
house with me. How she loathes all that we love 
humility, patience, obedience ! She would sooner die than 
obey. Unless she loved ! Then what an art, what an 
enchantment to command her ! It would tax a lover's 
power, a lover's heart, to the utmost. Ah ! ' 

He stood still, and with an effort of iron resolution 


put from him the fancies that were thronging on the 
t>rain. If it were possible for him to conquer her, con- 
ceivable that he might win her such a dream was 
forbidden to him, Alan Helbeck, a thousandfold ! Such a 
-marriage would be the destruction of innumerable schemes 
for the good of the Church, for the perfecting of his own 
life. It would be the betrayal of great trusts, the abandon- 
ment of great opportunities. 'My life would centre in 
her. She would come first the Church second. Hei 
nature would work on mine not mine on hers. Could I 
ever speak to her even of what I believe? the very alphabet 
of it is unknown to her. I shrink from proselytism. God 
ftirgive me ! it is her wild pagan self that I love that I 
desire ' 

The blast of human longing, human pain, was hard to 
meet hard to subdue. But the Catholic fought and 

' I am not my own I have taken tasks upon me that 
no honest man could betray. There are vows on me 
also, that bind me specially to our Lord to his Church. 
The Church frowns on such a love such marriages. She 
does not forbid them but they pain her heart. I have 
accepted her judgment till now, without difficulty, without 
conflict. Now to obey is hard. But I can obey we are 
not asked impossibilities.' 

He walked to the crucifix, and threw himself down 
before it. A midnight stillness brooded over the house. 

But far away, in an upper room, Laura Fountain had 
cried herself to sleep only to wake again and again, 
with the tears flooding her cheeks. Was it merely a 
disagreeable and exciting scene she had gone through ? 
What was this new invasion of her life? this new 
presence to the inward eye of a form and look that at 
once drew her and repulsed her. A hundred alien forces 



were threatening and pressing upon her and out from 
the very heart of them came this strange drawing this 
magnetism this troubling misery. 

To be prisoned in Bannisdale under Mr. Helbeck's 
roof for months and months longer this thought was 
maddening to her. 

But when she imagined herself free to go and far 
away once more from this old and melancholy house 
among congenial friends and scenes she was no happier 
than before. A little moan of anger and pain came, that 
she stifled against her pillow, calling passionately on the 
sleep that would, that must chase all these phantoms of 
fatigue or excitement and give her back her old free self. 



1 WE shall get there in capital time that's nice ! ' said 
Polly Mason, putting down the little railway guide she 
had just purchased at Marsland Station, with a general 
rustle of satisfaction. 

Polly indeed shone with good temper and new clothes. 
Her fringe even halved was prodigious. Her cheap, 
lemon-coloured gloves were cracking on her large hands ; 
and round her beflowered hat she had tied clouds on clouds 
of white tulle, which to some extent softened the tans and 
crimsons of her complexion. Her dress was of a stiff white 
cotton stuff, that fell into the most startling folds and 
angles ; and at every movement of it, the starch rattled. 

On the opposite seat of the railway carriage was 
Laura Fountain an open book upon her knee, that she 
was not reading. She made no answer, however, to 
Polly's remark ; the impression left by her attitude was 
that she took no interest in it. Miss Fountain herself 
hardly seemed to have profited much by that Westmore- 
land air whereof the qualities were to do so much fo* 
Augustina. It was now June, the end of June, and Laura 
was certainly paler, less blooming than she had been in 
March. She seemed more conscious ; she was certainly 
less radiant. Whether her prettiness had gained by the 


slight change, might be debated. Polly's eyes, indeed, as 
they sped along, paid her cousin one long covetous tribute. 
The difficulty that she always had in putting on her own 
clothes, and softening her own physical points, made her 
the more conscious of Laura's delicate ease, of all the yield- 
ing and graceful lines into which the little black and white 
muslin frock fell so readily, of all that natural kinship 
between Laura and her hats, Laura and her gloves, which 
poor Polly fully perceived, knowing well and sadly that she 
herself could never attain to it. 

Nevertheless pretty, Miss Fountain might be; 
(decant she certainly was ; but Polly did not find her the 
best of companions for a festal day. They were going to 
Froswick the big town on the coast to meet Hubert and 
another young man, one Mr. Seaton, foreman in a large 
engineering concern, whose name Polly had not been able 
to mention without bridling for some time past. 

It was more than a fortnight since the sister, driven 
by Hubert's incessant letters, had proposed to Laura that 
they two should spend a summer day at Froswick and see 
the great steel works on which the fame of that place de- 
pended, escorted and entertained by the two young men. 
Laura at first had turned a deaf ear. Then all at once- 
a very flare of eagerness and acceptance ! a sudden 
choosing of day and train. And now that they were 
actually on their way, with everything arranged, and a 
glorious June sun above their heads, Laura was so silent, 

so reluctant, so irritable you might have thought - 

Well! Polly really did not know what to think. 
She was not quite happy herself. From time to time, as 
her look dwelt on Laura, she was conscious of certain 
guilty reserves and concealments in her own breast. 
She wished Hubert had more sense she hoped to good- 
ness it would all go off nicely ! But of course it would. 
Polly was an optimist and took all things simply. 


anxieties for Laura did not long resist the mere pleasure 
of the journey and the trip, the flatteries of expectation. 
What a very respectable and, on the whole, good-looking 
young man was Mr. Seaton ! Polly had met him first at 
the Browhead dance ; so that what was a mere black and 
ugly spot in Laura's memory shone rosy -red in her cousin's. 

Meanwhile Laura, mainly to avoid Polly's conversa- 
tion, was looking hard out of window. They were running 
along the southern shore of a great estuary. Behind the 
loitering train rose the hills they had just left, the hills 
that sheltered the stream and the woods of Bannisdale. 
That rich, dark patch beneath the further brow was the 
wood in which the house stood. To the north, across the 
bay, ran the line of high mountains, a dim paradise of 
sunny slopes and steeps, under the keenest and brightest 
of skies blue ramparts from which the gently opening 
valleys flowed downwards, one beside the other, to the 
estuary and the sea. 

Not that the great plunging sea itself was much to 
be seen as yet. Immediately beyond the railway line 
stretched leagues of firm reddish sand, pierced by the 
innumerable channels of the Greet. The sun lay hot and 
dazzling on the wide flat surfaces, on the flocks of gulls, 
on the pools of clear water. The window was open, and 
through the June heat swept a sharp, salt breath. Laura, 
however, felt none of the physical exhilaration that as a 
rule overflowed in her so readily. Was it because the 
Bannisdale Woods were still visible ? What made the 
significance of that dark patch to the girl's restless eye ? 
She came back to it again and again. It was like a flag, 
round which a hundred warring thoughts had come to 


Were not she and Mr. Helbeck on the best of terms ? 
Was not Augustina quite pleased quite content? 'I- 


always knew, my dear Laura, that you and Alan would 
get on, in time. Why, anyone could get on with Alan 
he's so kind ! ' When these things were said, Laura 
generally laughed. She did not remind Mrs. Fountain 
that she, at one time of her existence, had not found it 
particularly easy and simple to get on with ' Alan ' ; 
but the girl did once allow herself the retort ' It's not so 
easy to quarrel, is it, when you don't see a person from 
week's end to week's end ? ' ' Week's end to week's 
end ? ' Mrs. Fountain repeated vaguely. ' Yes Alan is 
away a great deal people trust him so much he has 
so much business.' 

Laura was of opinion that his first business might 
very well have been to see a little more of his widowed 
sister ! She and Augustina spent days and days alone ; 
while Mr. Helbeck pursued the affairs of the Church. 
One precious attempt indeed had been made to 
break the dulness of Bannisdale. Miss Fountain's 
cheeks burned when she thought of it. There had been 
an afternoon party ! though Augustina's widowhood was 
barely a year old ! Mrs. Fountain had been sent about 
the country delivering notes and cards. And the 
result : oh, such a party ! such an interminable after- 
noon! Where had the people come from? who were 
they ? If Polly, full of curiosity, asked for some details, 
Laura would toss her head and reply that she knew 
nothing at all about it ; that Mrs. Denton had provided 
bad tea and worse cakes, and the guests had ' filled their 
chairs,' and there was nothing else to say. Mr. Helbeck's 
shyness and efforts; the glances of appeal he threw 
every now and then towards his sister; his evident 
depression when the thing was done these things were 
not told to Polly. There was a place for them in the 
girl's sore mind; but they did not come to speech. 
Anyway she believed nay, was quite sure that Bannis- 


dale would not be so tried a second time. For whose 
benefit was it done ? wbose 1 

One evening 

As the train crossed the bridge of the estuary, from 
one stretch of hot sand to another, Laura, staring at the 
view, saw really nothing but an image of the mind, felt 
nothing except what came through the magic of memory. 

The hall of Bannisdale, with the lingering daylight of the 
north still coming in at ten o'clock through the uncurtained 
oriel windows herself at the piano, Augustina on the settle 
a scent of night and flowers spreading through the dim 
place from the open windows of the drawing-room beyond. 
One candle is beside her and there are strange glints of 
moonlight here and there on the panelling. A tall figure 
enters from the chapel passage. Augustina makes room 
on the settle the Squire leans back and listens. And 
the girl at the piano plays ; the stillness and the night seem 
to lay releasing hands upon her ; bonds that have been 
stifling and cramping the soul break down ; she plays with 
all her self, as she might have talked or wept to a 
Mend to her father. . . . And at last, in a pause, the 
Squire puts a new candle beside her, and his deep shy 
voice commends her, asks her to go on playing. After- 
wards, there is a pleasant and gentle talk for half an 
hour Augustina can hardly be made to go to bed and 
when at last she rises, the girl's small hand slips into 
the man's, is lost there, feels a new lingering touch, from 
which both withdraw in almost equal haste. And the 
night, for the girl, is broken with restlessness, with wild 
efforts to draw the old fetters tight again, to clamp and 
prison something that flutters that struggles. 

Then next morning, there is an empty chair at the 
breakfast table. ' The Squire left early on business." 
Without any warning any courteous message? One 
evening at home, after a long absence, and then off 


again ! A good Catholic, it seems, lives in the train, and 
makes himself the catspaw of all who wish to use him 
for their own ends ! 

... As to that old peasant, Scarsbrook, what could 
be more arbitrary, more absurd than Mr. Helbeck's 
behaviour ? The matter turns out to be serious. Fright 
blanches the old fellow's beard and hair ; he takes to his 
bed, and the doctor talks of severe ' nervous shock ' 
very serious, often deadly, at the patient's age. Why 
not confess everything at once, set things straight, free 
the poor shaken mind from its oppression? Who's 
afraid ? what harm is there in an after-dinner stroll ? 

But there ! truth apparently is what no one wants, 
what no one will have least of all, Mr. Helbeck. She 
sees a meeting in the park, under the oaks the same tall 
man and the girl the girl bound impetuously for con- 
fession, and the soothing of old Scarsbrook's terrors once 
for all the man standing in the way, as tough and prickly 
as one of his own hawthorns. Courtesy, of course ! there 
is no one can make courtesy so galling ; and then such a 
shooting out of will and personality, so sudden, so volcanic 
a heat of remonstrance ! And a woman is such a poor 
ill-strung creature, even the boldest of them ! She yields 
when she should have pressed forward goes home to rage, 
when she should have stayed to wrestle. 

Afterwards, another absence the old house silent as 
the grave and Augustina so fretful, so wearisome ! But 
she is better, much better. How unscrupulous are 
doctors, and those other persons who make them say 
exactly what suits the moment ! 

The dulness seems to grow with the June heat. Soon 
it becomes intolerable. Nobody comes ; nobody speaks ; no 
mind offers itself to yours for confidence and sympathy. 
Well, but change and excitement of some sort, one must 
have ! who is to blame, if you get it where you can ? 


A day in Froswick with Hubert Mason ? Yes why 
not ? Polly proposes it has proposed it once or twice 
before to no purpose. For two months now the young man 
has been in training. Polly writes to him often ; Laura 
sometimes wonders whether the cross-examinations 
through which Polly puts her may not partly be for 
Hubert's benefit. She herself has written twice to him 
in answer to some half-dozen letters, has corrected his 
song for him has played altogether a very moral and 
sisterly part. Is the youth really in love ? Perhaps. 
Will it do him any harm ? 

Augustina of course dislikes the prospect of the 
Froswick day. But, really, Augustina must put up with it ! 
The Eeverend Mother will come for the afternoon, and 
keep her company. Such civility of late on the part of 
all the Catholic friends of Bannisdale towards Miss 
Fountain ! a civility always on the watch, week by week, 
day by day that never yields itself for an instant, has 
never a human impulse, an unguarded tone. Father 
Leadham is there one day he makes a point of talking 
with Miss Fountain. He leads the conversation to 
Cambridge, to her father his keen glance upon her all 
the time, the hidden life of the convert and the mystic 
leaping every now and then to the surface, and driven 
down again by a will that makes itself felt even by 
so cool a listener as a living tyrannous thing, developed 
out of all proportion to, nay at the cruel expense of the 
rest of the personality. Yet it is no will of the man's 
own it is the will of his order, of his faith. And why 
these repeated stray references to Bannisdale to its owner 
to the owner's goings and comings ? They are hardly 
questions, but they might easily have done the work of 
questions had the person addressed been willing. Laura 
laughs to think of it. 

Ah ! well but discretion to-day, discretion to-morrow, 


discretion always, is not the most amusing of diets. How 
dumb, how tame has she become ! There is no one to 
fight with, nothing whereon to let loose the sharp-edged 
words and sayings that lie so close behind the girl's shut 
lips. How amazing that one should positively miss those 
fuller activities in the chapel that depend on the Squire's 
presence ! Father Bowles says Mass there twice a week ; 
the light still burns before the altar ; several times a day 
Augustina disappears within the heavy doors. But when 
Mr. Helbeck is at home, the place becomes, as it were, the 
strong heart of the house. It beats through the whole 
organism ; so that no one can ignore or forget it. 

What is it that makes the difference when he returns ? 
Unwillingly, the mind shapes its reply. A sense of unity 
and law comes back into the house a hidden dignity and 
poetry. The Squire's black head carries with it stern 
reminders, reminders that challenge or provoke ; but ' he 
nothing common does nor mean,' and smaller mortals, as 
the weeks go by, begin to feel their hot angers and 
criticisms driven back upon themselves, to realise the 
strange persistency and force of the religious life. 

Inhuman force ! But force of any kind tends to draw, 
to conquer. More than once Laura sees herself at night, 
almost on the steps of the chapel, in the dark shadows of 
the passage following Augustina. But she has never yet 
mounted the steps never passed the door. Once or twice 
she has angrily snatched herself from listening to the 
distant voice. 

. . . Mr. Helbeck makes very little comment on the 
Froswick plan. One swift involuntary look at breakfast, as 
who might say ' Our compact ? ' But there was no 
compact. And go she will. 

And at last all opposition clears away. It must be Mr. 
Helbeck who has silenced Augustina for even she com- 
plains no more. Trains are looked out ; arrangements are 


made to fetch Polly from a halfway village; a fly is 
ordered to meet the 9.10 train at night. Why does one 
feel a culprit all through ? Absurdity ! Is one to be 
mewed up all one's life, to throw over all fun and frolic 
at Mr. Helbeck's bidding Mr. Helbeck, who now scarcely 
sets foot in Bannisdale, who seems to have turned his back 
upon his own house, since that precise moment when his 
sister and her stepdaughter came to inhabit it ? Never 
till this year was he restless in this way so says Mrs. 
Denton, whose temper grows shorter and shorter. 

Oh as to fun and frolic ! The girl yawns as she 
looks out of window. What a long hot day it is going 
to be and how foolish are all expeditions, all formal 
pleasures ! 9.10 at Marsland about seven, she supposes, 
at Froswick ? Already her thoughts are busy, hungrily 
busy with the evening, and the return. 

The train sped along. They passed a little watering- 
place under the steep wooded hills a furnace of sun on 
this hot June day, in winter a soft and sheltered refuge 
from the north. Further on rose the ruins of a great 
Cistercian Abbey, great ribs and arches of red sandstone, 
that still, in ruin, made the soul and beauty of a quiet 
valley ; then a few busy towns with mills and factories, 
the fringe of that industrial district which lies on the 
southern and western border of the Lake Country ; more 
wide valleys sweeping back into blue mountains ; a wealth 
of June leaf and blossoming tree ; and at last docks and 
buildings, warehouses and 'works,' a network of spreading 
railway lines, and all the other signs of an important and 
growing town. The train stopped amid a crowd, and 
Polly hurried to the door. 

' Why, Hubert ! Mr. Seaton ! Here we are ! ' 
She beckoned wildly, and not a few passers-by turned 
to look at the nodding clouds of tulle. 



' We shall find them, Polly don't shout/ said Laura 
behind her, in some disgust. 

Shout and beckon, however, Polly did and would, till 
the two young men were finally secured. 

' Why, Hubert, you never towd me what a big place 
'twas,' said Polly joyously. ' Lor, Mr. Seaton, doant 
fash yoursel. This is Miss Fountain my cousin. 
You'll remember her, I knaw.' 

Mr. Seaton began a polite and stilted speech while 
possessing himself of Polly's shawl and bag. He was a 
very superior young man of the clerk or foreman type, 
somewhat ill put together at the waist, with a flat back to 
his head, and a cadaverous countenance. Laura gave 
him a rapid look. But her chief curiosity was for Hubert. 
And at her first glance she saw the signs of that strong 
and silent process perpetually going on amongst us that 
tames the countryman to the life and habits of the 
town. It was only a couple of months since the young 
athlete from the fells had been brought within its sway, 
and already the marks of it were evident in dress, 
speech, and manner. The dialect was almost gone ; the 
black Sunday coat was of the most fashionable cut 
that Froswick could provide ; and as they walked along, 
Laura detected more than once in the downcast eyes of 
her companion, a stealthy anxiety as to the knees of his 
new grey trousers. So far the change was not an em- 
bellishment. The first loss of freedom and rough strength 
is never that. But it roused the girl's notice, and a sort 
of secret sympathy. She too had felt the curb of an 
alien life ! she could almost have held out her hand to 
him, as to a comrade in captivity. 

Outside the station, to Laura's surprise considering 
the object of the expedition Hubert made a sign to his 
sister, and they two dropped behind a little. 

1 What's the matter with her ? ' said Hubert abruptly, 


as soon as he judged that they were out of hearing of the 
couple in front. 

' Who do you mean ? Laura ? Why, she's well enoof ! ' 

1 Then she don't look it. She's fretting. What's 
wrong with her ? ' 

As Hubert looked down upon his sister, Polly was 
startled by the impatient annoyance of look and manner. 
And how red-rimmed and weary were the lad's eyes ! You 
might have thought he had not slept for a week. Polly's 
mind ran through a series of conjectures ; and she broke 
out with Westmoreland plainness 

' Hubert, I do wish tha wouldn't be sich a fool ! I've 
towd tha so times and times.' 

' Aye, and you may tell me so till kingdom come I 
sha'n't mind you,' he said doggedly. ' There's something 
between her and the Squire. I know there is. I know it 
by the look of her.' 

Polly laughed. 

' How you jump ! I tell tha she never says a word 
aboot him.' 

Hubert looked moodily at Laura's little figure in front. 

' All the more reason ! ' he said between his teeth. 
' She'd talk about him when she first came. But I'll find 
out never fear.' 

' For goodness' sake, Hubert, let her be ! ' said Polly, 
entreating. ' Sich wild stuff as thoo's been writin me ! 
Yan might ha thowt yo'd be fer cuttin yor throat, if yo 
didn't get her doon here. What art tha thinkin of, lad ? 
She'll never marry tha 1 She doan't belong to us and 
there's noa undoin it.' 

Hubert made no reply, but unconsciously his muscular 
frame took a passionate rigidity ; his face became set and 

4 Well, you keep watch,' he said. You'll see I'll 
make it worth your while.' 



Polly looked up half laughing. She understood his 
reference to herself and her new sweetheart. Hubert 
would play her game if she would play his. Well she 
had no objection whatever to help him to the sight of 
Laura when she could. Polly's moral sense was not over- 
delicate, and as to the upshot and issues of things, her 
imagination moved but slowly.' She did not like to let 
herself think of what might have been Hubert's relations 
to women to one or two wild girls about Whinthorpe 
for instance. But Laura Laura who was so much their 
social better, whose manners and self-possession awed 
them both, what smallest harm could ever come to her 
from any act or word of Hubert's ? For this rustic West- 
moreland girl, Laura Fountain stood on a pedestal robed 
and sceptred like a little queen. Hubert was a fool to 
fret himself a fool to go courting some one too high for 
him. What else was there to say or think about it ? 

At the next street corner Laura made a resolute stop. 
Polly should not any longer be defrauded of her Mr. 
Seaton. Besides she, Laura, wished to talk to Hubert. 
Mr. Seaton's long words, and way of mouthing his highly 
correct phrases, had already seemed to take the savour out 
of the morning. 

When the exchange was made Mr. Seaton alas ! show- 
ing less eagerness than might have been expected Laura 
quietly examined her companion. It seemed to her that 
he was taller than ever ; surely she was not much higher 
than his elbow! Hubert, conscious that he was being 
scrutinised, turned red, looked away, coughed, and appa- 
rently could find nothing to say. 

' Well how are you getting on ? ' said the light 
voice, sending its vibration through all the man's strong 

' I suppose I'm getting on all right,' he said, switching 
at the railings beside the road with his stick. 


* What sort of work do you do ? ' 

He gave her a stumbling account, from which she 
gathered that he was for the time being the factotum of an 
office, sent on everybody's errands, and made responsible 
for everybody's shortcomings. 

She threw him a glance of pity. This young Hercules, 
with his open-air traditions, and his athlete's triumphs 
behind him, turned into the butt and underling of half 
a dozen clerks in a stuffy office ! 

' I don't mind,' he said hastily. ' All the others paid 
for their places ; I didn't pay for mine. I'll be even with 
them all some day. It was the chance I wanted, and my 
uncle gives me a lift now and then. It was to please 
him they gave me the berth ; he's worth thousands and 
thousands a year to them ! ' 

And he launched into a boasting account of the impor- 
tance and abilities of his uncle, Daniel Mason, who was 
now managing director of the great shipbuilding yard into 
which Hubert had been taken, as a favour to his kins- 

' He began at the bottom, same as me only he was 
younger than me,' said Hubert, ' so he had the pull. 
But you'll see, I'll work up. I've learnt a lot since I've 
been here. The classes at the Institute well, they're 
fine ! ' 

Laura showed an astonished glance. New sides of 
the lad seemed to be revealing themselves. 

She inquired after his music. But he declared he was 
too busy to think of it. By and by in the winter he would 
have lessons. There was a violin class at the Institute 
perhaps he'd join that. Then abruptly, staring down upon 
her with his wide blue eyes 

' And how have you been getting on with the 
Squire ? ' 

He thought she started, but couldn't be quite sure. 


' Getting on with the Squire ? Why, capitally ! 
Whenever he's there to get on with.' 

' What he's been away ? ' he said eagerly. 

She raised her shoulders. 

' He's always away ' 

' Why, I thought they'd have made a Papist of you by 
now,' he said. 

His laugh was rough, but -his eyes held her with a 
curious insistence. 

I Think something more reasonable, please, next time ! 
Now, where are we going to lunch ? ' 

' We've got it all ready. But we must see the yard 
first. . . . Miss Fountain Laura I've got that flower 
you gave me.' 

His voice was suddenly hoarse. 

She glanced at him, lifting her eyebrows. 

' Very foolish of you, I'm sure. . . . Now do tell me, 
how did you get off so early ? ' 

He sulkily explained to her that work was unusually 
slack in his own yard; that, moreover, he had worked 
special overtime during the week in order to get an hour 
or two off this Saturday, and that Seaton was on night- 
duty at a large engineering ' works,' and lord therefore 
of his days. But she paid small attention. She was 
occupied in looking at the new buildings and streets, the 
brand new squares and statues of Froswick. 

' How can people build and live in such ugly places ? ' 
she said at last, standing still that she might stare about 
her ' when there are such lovely things in the world ; 
Cambridge, for instance or Bannisdale.' 

The last word slipped out, dreamily, unaware. 

The lad's face flushed furiously. 

I 1 don't know what there is to see in Bannisdale,' 
he said hotly. 'It's a damp, dark, beastly hole of a 


' I prefer Bannisdale to this, thank you,' said Laura, 
making a little face at the very ample bronze gentleman 
in a frock coat who was standing in the centre of a great 
new-built empty square, haranguing a phantom crowd. 
' Oh ! how ugly it is to succeed to have money ! ' 

Mason looked at her with a half -puzzled frown a 
frown that of late had begun to tease his handsome fore- 
head habitually. 

' What's the harm of having a bit of brass ? ' he said 
angrily. ' And what's the beauty o' livin in an old 
ramshackle place, without a sixpence in your pocket, and 
a pride fit to bring you to the workhouse ! ' 

Laura's little mouth showed amusement, an amuse- 
ment that stung. She lifted a little fan that hung at her 

' Is there any shade in Froswick ? ' she said, looking 
round her. 

Mason was silenced, and as Polly and Mr. Seaton 
joined them, he recovered his temper with a mighty effort 
and once more set himself to do the honours the 
slighted honours of his new home. 

. . . But oh ! the heat of the shipbuilding yard. Laura 
was already tired and faint, and could hardly drag her 
feet up and down the sides of the great skeleton ships that 
lay building in the docks, or through the interminable 
1 fitting ' sheds with their piles of mahogany and teak, their 
whirring lathes and saws, their heaps of shavings, their 
resinous wood-smell. And yet the managing director 
appeared in person for twenty minutes, a thin, small, 
hawk-eyed man, not at all unwilling to give a brief 
patronage to the young lady who might be said to link the 
houses of Mason and Helbeck in a flattering equality. 

1 He wad never ha doon it for us ! ' Polly whispered 
in her awe to Miss Fountain. ' It's you he's affther ! ' 

Laura, however, was not grateful. She took her 


industrial lesson ill, with much haste and inattention, so 
that once when the director and his nephew fell behind, 
the great man, whose speech to his kinsman in private 
was often little less broad than Mrs. Mason's own said 

' An I doan't think much o" your fine cousin, mon ! 
she's nobbut a flighty miss.' 

The young man said nothing. He was still slavishly 
ill at ease with his uncle, on whose benevolence all his 
future depended. 

' Is there something more to see ? ' said Laura lan- 

' Only the steel works,' said Mr. Seaton, with a patro- 
nising smile. ' You young ladies, I presume, would hardly 
wish to go away without seeing our chief establishment. 
Froswick Steel and Hematite Works employ three thou- 
sand workmen.' 

' Do they ? and does it matter ? ' said Laura, playing 
with the salt. 

She wore a little plaintive, tired air, which suited her 
soft paleness, and made her extraordinarily engaging in 
the eyes of both the young men. Mason watched her 
perpetually, anticipating her slightest movement, waiting 
on her least want. And Mr. Seaton, usually so certain of 
his own emotions and so wholly in command of them, 
began to feel himself confused. It was with a distinct 
slackening of ardour that he looked from Miss Fountain to 
Polly his Polly, as he had almost come to think of 
her, honest managing Polly, who would have a bit of 
' brass/ and was in all respects a tidy and suitable 
wife for such a man as he. But why had she wrapped 
all that silly white stuff round her head? And her 
hands ? Mr. Seaton slyly withdrew his eyes from Polly's 
reddened members to fix them on the thin white wrist 


that Laura was holding poised in air, and the pretty 
fingers twirling the salt spoon. 

Polly meantime sat up very straight, and was no 
longer talkative. Lunch had not improved her complexion t 
as the mirror hanging opposite showed her. Every now 
and then she too threw little restless glances across at 

' Why, we needn't go to the works at all if we don't 
like,' said Polly. ' Can't we get a fly, Hubert, and take 
a jaunt soomwhere ? ' 

Hubert bent forward with alacrity. Of course they 
could. If they went four miles up the river or so, they 
would come to real nice country and a farmhouse 
where they could have tea. 

1 Well, I'm game,' said Mr. Seaton, magnanimously 
slapping his pocket. ' Anything to please these ladies.' 

' I don't know about that seven o'clock train ? ' said 
Mason doubtfully. 

' Well, if we can't get that, there's a later one.' 

' No, that's the last.' 

'You may trust me,' said Seaton pompously. 'I 
know my way about a railway guide. There's one a little 
after eight.' 

Hubert shook his head. He thought Seaton was 
mistaken. But Laura settled the matter. 

' Thank you we'll not miss our train,' she said, rising 
to put her hat straight before the glass 'so it's the 
works, please. What is it furnaces and red-hot 
things ? ' 

In another minute or two they were in the street 
again. Mr. Seaton settled the bill with a magnificent 
' Damn the expense ' air, which annoyed Mason who was 
of course a partner in all the charges of the day and made 
Laura bite her lip. Outside he showed a strong desire to 
walk with Miss Fountain that he might instruct her in the 


details of the Bessemer process and the manufacture of 
steel rails. But the ease with which the little nonchalant 
creature disposed of him, the rapidity with which he found 
himself transferred to Polly, and left to stare at the backs 
of Laura and Hubert hurrying along in front, amazed 

' Isn't she nice-looking ? ' said poor Polly, as she too 
stared helplessly at the distant pair. 

Her shawl weighed upon her arm, Mr. Seaton had 
forgotten to ask for it. But there was a little sudden 
balm in the irritable vexation of his reply 

' Some people may be of that opinion, Miss Mason. 
I own I prefer a greater degree of balance in the fair sex.' 

1 Oh ! does he mean me ? ' thought Polly. 

And her spirits revived a little. 

Meanwhile, as Laura and Hubert walked along to the 
desolate road that led to the great steel works, Hubert 
knew a kind of jealous and tormented bliss. She was 
there, fluttering beside him, her delicate face often turned 
to him, her feet keeping step with his. And at the same 
time what strong intangible barriers between them ! She 
had put away her mocking tone was clearly determined 
to be kind and cousinly. Yet every word only set the 
tides of love and misery swelling more strongly in the 
lad's breast. ' She doan't belong to us, an there's noa 
undoin it.' Polly's phrase haunted his ear. Yet he dared 
ask her no more questions about Helbeck ; small and 
frail as she was, she could wrap herself in an unapproach- 
able dignity ; nobody had ever yet solved the mystery of 
Laura's inmost feeling against her will; and Hubert 
knew despairingly that his clumsy methods had small 
chance with her. But he felt with a kind of rage that 
there were signs of suffering about her ; he divined some- 
Ihing to know, at the same time that he realised with all 


plainness it was not for his knowing. Ah ! that man 
that ugly starched hypocrite after all had he got hold of 
her ? Who could live near her without feeling this pain 
this pang ? . . . Was she to be surrendered to him without 
a struggle to that canting droning fellow, with his jail of 
a house ? Why, he would crush the life out of her in six 
months ! 

There was a rush and whirl in the lad's senses. A 
cry of animal jealousy of violence rose in his being. 

' How wonderful ! how enchanting ! ' cried Laura, 
her glance sparkling, her whole frame quivering with 

They had just entered the great main shed of the 
steel works. The foreman, who had been induced by the 
young men to take them through, was in the act of placing 
Laura in the shelter of a brick screen, so as to protect her 
from a glowing shower of sparks that would otherwise 
have swept over her ; and the girl had thrown a few startled 
looks around her. 

A vast shed, much of it in darkness, and crowded with 
dim forms of iron and brick at one end, and one 
side, openings, where the June day came through. 
Within a grandiose mingling of fire and shadow a vast 
glare of white or bluish flame from a huge furnace roar- 
ing against the inner wall of the shed sparks, like star- 
showers, whirling through dark spaces ingots of glowing 
steel, pillars of pure fire passing and repassing, so that 
the heat of them scorched the girl's shrinking cheek and 
everywhere, dark against flame, the human movement 
answering to the elemental leap and rush of the fire, 
black forms of men hi a constant activity, masters and 
ministers at once of this crackling terror round about 

' Aye ! ' said their guide, answering the girl's questions 


as well as he could in the roar ' that's the great furnace 
where they boil the steel. Now you watch when the 
flame look ! it's white now turns blue that means the 
process is done the steel's cooked. Then they'll bring 
the vat beneath turn the furnace over you'll see the 
steel pour out.' 

' Is that a railway ? ' 

She pointed to a raised platform in front of the furnace. 
A truck bearing a high metal tub was running along it. 

' Yes it's from there they feed the furnace in a minute 
you'll see the tub tip over.' 

There was a signal bell a rattle of machinery. The 
tub tilted a great jet of white flame shot upwards from 
the furnace the great mouth had swallowed down its 

' And those men with their wheelbarrows ? Why do 
they let them go so close ? ' 

She shuddered and put her hand over her eyes. 

The foreman laughed. 

' Why, it's quite safe ! the tub's moved out of the way. 
You see the furnace has to be fed with different stuffs 
the tub brings one sort and the barrows another. Now 
look they're going to turn it over. Stand back ! ' 

He held up his hand to bid Mason come under 

Laura looked round her. 

' Where are the other two ? ' she asked. 

' Oh ! they've gone to see the bar-testing they'll be 
here soon. Seaton knows the man in charge of the 
testing workshop.' 

Laura ceased to think of them. She was absorbed in 
the act before her. The great lip of the furnace began to 
swing downwards ; fresh showers of sparks fled in wild 
curves and spirals through the shed ; out flowed the stream 
of liquid steel into the vat placed beneath. Then slowly 


the fire-cup righted itself ; the flame roared once more 
against the wall ; the swarming figures to either side began 
once more to feed the monster men, and trucks, and 
wheelbarrow, the little railway line, and the iron pillars 
supporting it, all black against the glare 

Laura stood breathless her wild nature rapt by what 
she saw. But while she hung on the spectacle before her, 
Mason never spared it a glance. He was conscious of 
scarcely anything but her her childish form, in the little 
clinging dress, her white face, every soft feature clear in 
the glow, her dancing eyes, her cloud of reddish hair, from 
which her wide black hat had slipped away in the excite- 
ment of her upward gaze. The lad took the image into his 
heart it burnt there as though it too were fire. 

1 Now let's look at something else ! ' said Laura at last, 
turning away with a long breath. 

And they took her to see the vat that had been filled 
from the furnace, pouring itself into the ingot moulds 
then the four moulds travelling slowly onwards till they 
paused under a sort of iron hand that descended and 
lifted them majestically from the white-hot steel beneath, 
uncovering the four fiery pillars that reddened to a blood 
colour as they moved across the shed till, on the other 
side, one ingot after another was lowered from the truck, 
and no sooner felt the ground than it became the prey of 
some unseen force, which drove it swiftly onwards from 
beneath, to where it leapt with a hiss and crunch into the 
jaws of the mill. Then out again on the further side, 
lengthened, and pared, the demon in it already half tamed ! 
flying as it were from the first mill, only to be caught 
again in the squeeze of the second, and the third until at 
last the quivering rail emerged at the further end, a 
twisting fire-serpent, still soft under the controlling rods 
of the workmen. On it glided, on, and out of the shed, 
into the open air, till it reached a sort of platform over a 


pit, where iron claws caught at it from beneath, and 
brought it to a final rest, in its own place, beside its 
innumerable fellows, waiting for the market and its buyers. 

' Mayn't we go back once more to the furnace ? ' said 
Miss Fountain eagerly to her guide ' just for a minute ! ' 

He smiled at her, unable to say no. 

And they walked back across the shed, to the brick 
shelter. The great furnace was roaring as before, the 
white sheet of flame was nearing its last change of colour, 
tub after tub, barrow after barrow poured its contents 
into the vast flaring throat. Behind the shelter was an 
elderly woman with a shawl over her head. She had 
brought a jar of tea for some workmen, and was standing 
like any stranger, watching the furnace and hiding from 
the sparks. 

Now there is only one man more and after that, one 
more tub to be lowered and the hell-broth is cooked once 
again, and will come streaming forth. 

The man advances with his barrow. Laura sees his 
blackened face in the intolerable light, as he turns to give 
a signal to those behind him. An electric bell rings. 


What was that ? 

God ! what was that ? 

A hideous cry rang through the works. Laura drew 
her hand in bewilderment across her eyes. The foreman 
beside her shouted and ran forward. 

' Where's the man ? ' she said helplessly to Mason. 

But Mason made no answer. He was clinging to the 
brick wall, his eyes staring out of his head. A great 
clamour rose from the little railway from beneath it 
from all sides of it. The shed began to swarm with 
running men, all hurrying towards the furnace. The air 
was full of their cries. It was like the loosing of a 
maddened hive. 


Laura tottered, fell back against the wall. The old 
woman who had come to bring the tea rushed up to 

' Oh Lord, save us '.Lord, save us ! ' she cried, with a 
wail to rend the heart. 

And the two women fell into each other's arms, 
shuddering, with wild broken words, which neither of 
them heard or knew. 



' LOOK out there ! For God's sake, go to your places ! 

The cry of the foreman reached the ears of the clinging 
women. They fell apart each peering into the crowd 
and the tumult. 

Mounted on a block of wood about a dozen yards 
from them waving his arm and shouting to the stream 
of panic-stricken workmen they saw the man who had 
been their guide through the works. Four white-hot 
ingots, just uncovered, blazed deserted on their truck close 
to him, and a multitude of men and boys were pushing 
past them, tumbling over each other in their eagerness to 
reach the neighbourhood of the furnace. The space be- 
tween the ingots and some machinery near them was 
perilously narrow. At any moment, those rushing past 
might have been pushed against the death-bearing truck. 
Ah ! another cry. A man's coat-sleeve has caught fire. 
He is pulled back another coat is flung about him the 
line of white faces turns towards him an instant wavers 
then the crowd flows on as before. 

Another man in authority comes up also shouting. 
The man on the block dismounts, and the two hold rapid 
colloquy. 'Have they sent for Mr. Martin?' 'Aye.' 
' Where's Mr. Barlow ? ' ' He's no good ! ' ' Have they 
stopped the mills ? ' ' Aye there's not a man '11 touch 
a thing you'd think they'd gone clean out of their 


minds. There '11 be accidents all over the place if some- 
body can't quiet 'em.' 

Suddenly the buzzing groups behind the foreman 
parted, and a young broad-shouldered workman, grimed 
from head to foot, his blue eyes rolling in his black face, 
came staggering through. 

' Gie ma a drink,' he said, clutching at the old woman ; 
' an let ma sit down ! ' 

He almost fell upon an iron barrow that lay face 
downwards on the path. Laura, sitting crouched and sick 
upon the ground, raised her head to look at him. Another 
man, evidently a comrade, followed him, took the mug of 
cold tea from the old woman's shaking hand, lifted his 
head and helped him drink it. 

' Blast yer ! why ain't it spirits ? ' said the youth, 
throwing himself back against his companion. His eyes 
closed on his smeared cheeks ; his jaw fell ; his whole 
frame seemed to sink into collapse ; those gazing at 
him saw, as it were, the dislocation and undoing of 
a man. 

' Cheer up, Ned cheer up,' said the older man, kneel- 
ing down behind him ' you'll get over it, my boy it worn't 
none o' your fault. Stand back there, you fellows, an 
gie im ah 1 .' 

' Oh, damn yer ! let ma be,' gasped the young 
fellow, stretching himself against the other's support, 
like one who feels the whole inner being of him sick 
to death, and cannot be still for an instant under the 

The woman with the tea began to cry loudly and ask 
questions. Laura rose to her feet, and touched her. 

' Don't cry can't you get some brandy ? ' Then in her 
turn she felt herself caught by the arm. 

1 Miss Fountain Miss Laura I can get you out of 
this ! there's a way out here by the back." 



Mason's white countenance showed over her shoulder 
as she turned. 

' Not yet can't any one find some brandy ? Ah ! ' 

For their guide came up at the moment with a 
bottle in his hand. It was Laura who handed him the 
mug, and it was she who, stooping down, put the spirit to 
the lips of the fainting workman. Her mind seemed to 
float in a mist of horror, but her will asserted itself ; she 
recovered her power of action sooner than the men around 
her. They stared at the young lady for a moment ; but 
no more. The one hideous fact that possessed them 
robbed all else of meaning. 

' Did he see it ? ' said Laura to the man's friend. Her 
voice reached no ear but his. For they were surrounded 
by two uproars the noise of the crowd of workmen, a 
couple of thousand men aimlessly surging and shouting to 
each other, and the distant thunder of the furnace. 

' Aye, Miss. He wor drivin the tub, an he saw 
Overton in front it wor the wheel of his barrer slipped, 
an soomthin must ha took him if he'd ha let goa straight 
theer ud bin noa harm doon bit he mut ha tried to draw 
it back an the barrer pulled him right in.' 

' He didn't suffer ? ' said Laura eagerly, her face close 
under his. 

' Thank the Lord, he can ha known nowt aboot it ! 
nowt at aw. The gas ud throttle him, Miss, afore he felt 
the fire.' 

' Is there a wife ? ' 

' Noa he coom here a widower three weeks sen 
there's a little gell ' 

' Aye ! they be gone for her an t* passon boath,' said 
another voice ; ' what's passon to do whan he cooms ? ' 

' Salve the masters' consciences ! ' cried a third in fury. 
* They'll burn us to hell first, and then quieten us with 


Many faces turned to the speaker, a thin wiry man, 
one of the ' agitators ' of the town, and a dull groan went 

' Make way there ! ' cried an imperious voice, and the 
crowd between them and the entrance side of the shed 
began to part. A gentleman came through, leading a 
clergyman, who walked hurriedly, with eyes downcast, 
holding his book against his breast. 

There was a flutter of caps through the vast shed. 
Every head stood bared and bent. On went the parson 
towards the little platform with the railway. The fur- 
nace had sunk somewhat its roar was less acute Laura 
looking at it thought of the gorged beast that falls to rest. 

But another parting of the throng one sob ! the 
common sob of hundreds. 

Laura looked. 

' It's t' little gell, Ned ! t' little gell ! ' said the elder 
workman to the youth he was supporting. 

And there in the midst of the blackened crowd of men 
was a child, frightened and weeping, led tenderly forward 
by a grey -haired workman, who looked down upon her, 
quite unconscious of the tears that furrowed his own 

' Oh let me let me go ! ' cried Laura. The men 
about her fell back. They made a way for her to the 
child. The old woman had disappeared. In an instant 
Laura, as of right, took the place of her sex. Half an hour 
before she had been the merest passing stranger in that 
vast company; now she was part of them, organically 
necessary to the act passing in their midst. The men 
yielded her the child instinctively, at once ; she caught 
the little one in her sheltering arm. 

'Ought she to be here?' she asked sharply of the 
grey-haired man. 



' They're goin to read the Burial Service, Miss,' he 
said, as he dashed away the mist from his eyes. 'An 
we thowt that the little un would like soom day to think 
she'd been here. So I found her she wor in school.' 

The child looked round her in terror. The platform 
in front of the furnace had been hurriedly cleared. It 
was now crowded with men masters and managers in 
black coats mingled with workmen, to the front the parson 
in his white. He turned to the throng below and opened 
his book. 

' I am the Resurrection and the Life.' 

A great pulsation passed through the mob of work- 
men. On all sides strong men broke down and wept. 

The child stared at the platform, then at these faces 
round her that were turned upon her. 

' Daddy where's Daddy ? ' she said trembling, her 
piteous eyes travelling up and down the pretty lady 
beside her. 

Laura sat down on the edge of a truck and drew the 
little shaking creature to her breast. Such a power of 
tenderness went out from her, so soft was the breast, so 
lulling the scent of the roses pinned into the lady's belt, 
that the child was stilled. Every now and then, as she 
looked at the men pressing round her, a passion of fear 
seemed to run through her ; she shuddered and struggled 
in Laura's hold. Otherwise she made not a sound. And 
the great words swept on. 

How the scene penetrated! leaving great stabbing 
lines never to be effaced in the quivering tissues of the 
girl's nature. Once before she had heard the English 
burial service. Her father groaning and fretting under 
the penalties of friendship had taken her, when she was 
fifteen, to the funeral of an old Cambridge colleague. 
She remembered still the cold cemetery chapel, the 


gowned mourners, the academic decorum, or the mild 
regret amid which the function passed. Then her father's 
sharp impatience as they walked home that reasonable 
men in a reasonable age should be asked to sit and listen 
to Paul's logic, and the absurdities of Paul's cosmical 
speculations ! 

And now from what movements, what obscurities 
of change within herself, had come this new sense, half 
loathing, half attraction, that could not withdraw itself 
from the stroke, from the attack of this Christian poetry 
these cries of the soul, now from the Psalms, now from 
Paul, now from the unknown voices of the Church ? 

Was it merely the setting that made the difference 
the horror of what had passed, the infinite relief to eye 
and heart of this sudden calm that had fallen on the terror 
and distraction of the workmen the strangeness of this 
vast shed for church, with its fierce perpetual drama of 
assaulting flame and flying shadow, and the gaunt tangled 
forms of its machinery the dull glare of that distant 
furnace that had made so little hardly an added throb, 
hardly a leaping flame ! of the living man thrown to it 
half an hour before, and seemed to be still murmuring and 
growling there, behind this great act of human pity, in a 
dying discontent ? 

Whence was it this stilling, pacifying power ? 

All round her men were sobbing and groaning, but as 
the wave dies after the storm. They seemed to feel 
themselves in some grasp that sustained, some hold that 
made life tolerable again. ' Amens ' came thick and fast. 
The convulsion of the faces was abating; a natural 
human courage was flowing back into contracted hearts. 

'Blessed are the dead for they rest from, their 
labours ' ' as our hope is this our brother doth.' 

Laura shivered. The constant agony of the world, in 
its constant search for all that consoles, all that eases, laid 


its compelling hand upon her. By a natural instinct she 
wrapped her arms closer, more passionately, round the 
child upon her knee. 

' Won't she come ? ' said Mason. 

He and Seaton were standing in the downstairs 
parlour of a small house in a row of workmen's cottages, 
about half a mile from the steel works. 

Mason still showed traces, in look and bearing, of the 
horror he had witnessed. But he had sufficiently re- 
covered from it to be conscious into the bargain of his 
own personal grievance, of their spoilt day, and his lost 
chances. Seaton, too, showed annoyance and impatience ; 
and as Polly entered the room he echoed Mason's 

Polly shook her head. 

' She says she won't leave the child till the last 
moment. We must go and have our tea, and come back 
for her.' 

' Come along then ! ' said Mason gloomily, as he led 
the way to the door. 

The little garden outside, as they passed through it, 
was crowded with women discussing the accident, and 
every now and then a crowd would gather on the pave- 
ment and disperse again. To each and aU the speakers, 
the one intolerable thing was the total disappearance of 
the poor lost one. No body no clothes no tangible 
relic of the dead : it was a sore trial to customary 
beliefs. Heaven and hell seemed alike inconceivable when 
there was no phantom grave-body to make trial of them. 
One woman after another declared that it would send her 
mad if it ever happened to any belonging of hers. ' But 
it's a mercy there's no one to fret nobbut t' little gell 
an she's too sma'.' There was much talk about the 
young lady that had come home with her 'a nesh 


pretty lukin yoong creetur ' to whom little Nelly clung 
strangely no doubt because she and her father had been 
so few weeks in Froswick that there had been scarcely time 
for them to make friends of their own. The child held 
the lady's gown in her clutch perpetually, Mr. Dixon 
reported would not lose sight of her for a moment. 
But the lady herself was only a visitor to Froswick, was 
being just taken through the works, when the accident 
happened, and was to leave the town by an evening 
train so it was said. However there would be those 
left behind who would look after the poor lamb Mrs. 
Starr, who had taken the tea to the works, and Mrs. Dixon, 
the Overtons' landlady. They were in the house now ; 
but the lady had begged every one else to keep outside. 

The summer evening crept on. 

At half past six Polly with Hubert behind her climbed 
the stairs of the little house. Polly pushed open the 
door of the back room, and Hubert peered over her 

Inside was a small workman's room, with a fire 
burning, and the window wide open. There were tea- 
things on the table; a canary bird singing loudly in a 
cage beside the window; and a suit of man's clothes 
with a clean shirt hanging over a chair near the fire. 

In a rocking-chair by the window lay the little girl 
a child of about nine years old. She was quite colour- 
less, but she was not crying. Her eyes still had the look 
of terror that the sight of the works had called up in 
them, and she started at every sound. Laura was kneel- 
ing beside her, trying to make her drink some tea. The 
child kept pushing the tea away, but her other hand held 
fast to Laura's arm. On the further side of the table sat 
two elderly women. 

' Laura, there's only just time ! ' said Polly softly, 
putting her head through the door. 



The child started painfully, and the cup Laura held 
was with difficulty saved from falling. 

Laura stooped and kissed the little one's cheek. 

' Dear, will you let me go now ? Mrs. Dixon will take 
care of you and I'll come and see you again soon.' 

Nelly began to breathe fast. She caught Laura's 
sleeve with both hands. 

' Don't you go, Miss I'll not stay with her.' She 
nodded towards her landlady. 

'Now, Nelly, you must be a good girl,' said Mrs. 
Dixon, rising and coming forward she was a strange, 
ugly woman, with an almost bald head 'you must 
do what your poor papa wud ha wished you to do. 
Let the lady go, an I'll take care on you same as. 
one o' my own, till they can come and take you to the 

' Oh ! don't say that ! ' cried Laura. 

But it was too late. The child had heard the word 
had understood it. 

She looked wildly from one to the other, then she 
threw herself against the side of the chair, in a very 
madness of crying. Now, she pushed even Laura away. 
It seemed as though at the sound of that one word 
she had felt herself indeed forsaken, she had become 
acquainted with her grief. 

Laura's eyes rilled with tears. 

Polly, standing at the door, spoke to her in vain. 

1 There's another train Mr. Seaton said so ! ' Laura 
threw the words over her shoulder as though in anger. 
Hubert Mason stood behind her. In her excitement it 
seemed to her that he was dragging her by force from this, 
sobbing and shrieking misery before her. 

' I don't believe he's right. I never heard of any train 
later than the 7.10,' said Mason in perplexity. 


' Go and ask him.' 

Mason went away and returned. 

' Of course he swears there is. You won't get Seaton 
to say he's mistaken in a hurry. All I know is I never 
heard of it.' 

' He must be right,' said Laura obstinately. ' Don't 
trouble about me send a cab. Oh ! ' 

She put her hands to her ears for an instant, as they 
stood by the door, as though to shut out the child's cries. 
Hubert looked down upon her, hesitating, his face flushed, 
his eyes drawn and sombre. 

' Now you '11 let me take you home, Miss Laura ? It 
'11 be very late for you. I can get back to-morrow.' 

She looked up suddenly. 

' No, no I ' she said, almost stamping. ' I can get home 
alone quite well. I want no one.' 

Then she caught the lad's expression and put her 
hand to her brow a moment. 

' Come back for me now at any rate in an hour,' she 
said, in another voice. ' Please take me to the train of 
course. I must go then.' 

' Oh, Laura, I can't wait ! ' cried Polly from the stairs 
' I wish I could. But mother's sending Daffady with 
the cart and she'd be that cross.' 

Laura came out to the stairway. 

' Don't wait. Just tell the carriage mind ' she hung 
over the banisters enforcing the words ' tell them that 
I'm coming by the later train. They're not to send down 
for me again I can get a cab at the inn. Mind, Polly 
did you hear ? ' 

She bent forward, caught Polly's assent, and ran back 
to the child. 

An hour later Mason found Laura with little Nelly 
lying heavily asleep in her arms. At sight of him she 


put finger on lip, and, rising, carried the child to her bed. 
Tenderly she put her down tenderly kissed the little 
hand. The child's utter sleep seemed to soothe her, for 
she turned away with a smile on her blanched lips. She 
gave money to Mrs. Starr, who was to nurse the little one 
for a week, and then, it seemed to Mason, she was all 
alacrity, all eagerness to go. 

' Oh ! but we're late ! ' she said, looking at her watch 
in the street. And she hastily put her head out of the 
window and implored the cabman to hurry. 

Mason said nothing. 

The station, when they reached it, was in a Saturday 
night ferment. Trains were starting and arriving, the 
platforms were packed with passengers. 

Mason said a word to a porter as they rushed in. 
The porter answered ; then, while they fled on, the man 
stopped a moment and looked back as though about to 
run after them. But a dozen passengers with luggage 
laid hands upon him at once, and he was left with no 
time for more than the muttered remark : 

' Marsland ? Why, there's no train beyond Braeside 

'No. 4 platform,' said Hubert to his companion. 
' Train just going.' Laura threw off her exhaustion and 

The guard was just putting his whistle to his lips. 
Hubert lifted her into her carriage. 

' Good-bye,' she said, waving to him, and disappeared 
at once into a crowd of fellow-passengers. 

' Eight for Marsland ? ' cried Hubert to the guard. 

The guard, who had already whistled, waved his flag 
as he replied : 

' Marsland ? No train beyond the junction to-night.' 

Hubert paused for a moment, then, as the train was 
.moving briskly out, sprang upon the footboard. A porter 


rushed up, the door was opened, and he was shoved in 
amid remonstrances from front and rear. 

The heavily laden train stopped at every station was 
already nearly an hour late. Holiday crowds got in and 
out ; the platforms were gay with talk and laughter. 

Mason saw nothing and heard nothing. He sat lean- 
ing forward, his hat slouched over his eyes. The man 
opposite thought he had fallen asleep. 

Whose fault was it ? Not his ! He might have made 
sure? Why, wasn't Seaton's word good enough? She 
thought so. 

Why hadn't he made sure ? in that interval before he 
came back for her ! She might have stayed at Froswick 
for the night. Plenty of decent people would have put 
her up. He remembered how he had delayed to call the 
cab till the last moment. 

. . . Good God ! how could a man know what he had 
thought ! He was fair moidered bedazzled by that 
awful thing and all the change of plans. And there 
was Seaton's word for it. Seaton was a practical man, 
and always on the railway. 

What would she say when the train stopped ? In 
anticipation he already heard the cry of the porters 
' Braeside ! All change ! ' The perspiration started on his 
brow. Why, there was sure to be a decent inn at Braeside, 
and he would do everything for her. She would be glad 
of course she would be glad to see him as soon as she 
discovered her dilemma. After all he was her cousin 
her blood relation. 

And Mr. Helbeck ? The lad's hand clenched. A 
clock-face came slowly into view at a wayside station. 
8.45. He was now waiting for her at Marsland. For 
the Squire himself would bring the trap ; there was no 
coachman at Bannisdale. A glow of fierce joy passed 


through the lad's mind, as he thought of the Squire 
waiting, the train's arrival, the empty platform, the 
returning carriage. What would the Squire think ? 
Damn him ! let him think what he liked. 

Meanwhile, in another carriage, Laura leant back with 
shut eyes, pursued by one waking dream after another. 
Shadow and flame the whirling sparks the cry ! that 
awful wrenching of the heart in her breast the parting 
crowd, and the white-faced child, phantom-like, in its 
midst. She sat up, shaken anew by the horror of it, 
trying to put it from her. 

The carriage was now empty. All the other travellers 
had dismounted, and she seemed to be rushing through 
the summer night alone. For the long daylight was 
nearly done. The purple of the June evening was 
passing into the more mysterious purple of the starlight ; 
a clear and jewelled sky hung softly over valleys with 
'seaward parted lips,' over woods with the wild rose 
bushes shining dimly at their edge ; over knolls of rocky 
ground, crowned with white spreading farms ; over those 
distant forms to the far north where the mountains melted 
into the night. 

Her heart was still wrung for the orphaned child 
prized yesterday, no doubt they said he was a good 
father ! desolate to-day like herself. ' Daddy ! where's 
Daddy ? ' She laid her brow against the window sill and 
let the tears come again, as she thought of that trembling 
cry. For it was her own the voice of her own hunger 
orphan to orphan. 

And yet, after this awful day this never to be 
forgotten shock and horror she was not unhappy. 
Kather, a kind of secret joy possessed her as the train 
sped onward. Her nature seemed to be sinking wearily 
into soft gulfs of reconciliation and repose. Froswick, with 


its struggle and death, its newness and restlessness, was 
behind her she was going home, to the old house, with 
its austerity and peace. 

Home ? Bannisdale, home ? How strange ! But she 
was too tired to fight herself to-night she let the word 
pass. In her submission to it there was a secret pleasure. 

. . . The first train had come in by now. Eagerly, 
she saw Polly on the platform Polly looking for the 
pony-cart. Was it old Wilson or Mr. Helbeck? 
Wilson, of course ! And yet yet she knew that Wilson 
had been away in Whinthorpe on farm business all day. 
And Mr. Helbeck was careful of the old man. Ah well ! 
there would be something and some one to meet her 
when she arrived. Her heart knew that. 

Now they were crossing the estuary. The moon was 
rising over the sands, and those far hills, the hills of Bannis- 
dale. There on the further bank were the lights of Braeside. 
She had forgotten to ask whether they changed at the 
junction probably the Marsland train would be waiting. 

The Greet ! its voice was in her ears, its many 
channels shone in the flooding light. How near the hills 
seemed ! just a moonlight walk along the sands, and 
one was there, under the old tower and the woods. The 
sands were dangerous, people said. There were quick- 
sands among them, and one must know the paths. Ah ! 
well she smiled. Humdrum trains and cabs were good 
enough for her to-night. 

She hung at the open window, looking down into the 
silver water. How strange, after these ghastly hours, to 
feel yourself floating in beauty and peace a tremulous 
peace like this? The world going your way the soul 
yielding itself to fate taking no more painful thought for 
the morrow 

' Braeside ! All change ! ' 


Laura sprang from the carriage. The station clock 
opposite told her to her dismay that it was nearly half -past 

'Where's the Marsland train?' she said to the 
porter who had come forward to help her. ' And how 
dreadfully late we are ! ' 

' Marsland train, Miss ! Last one left an hour ago no 
other till 6.12 to-morrow morning.' 

' What do you mean ? Oh ! you didn't hear ! it's the 
train for Marsland I want.' 

'Afraid you won't get it then, Miss, till to-morrow. 
Didn't they warn you at Proswick ? they'd ought to. This 
train only makes the main -line connection for Ore we 
and Kugby no connection Whinthorpe way after 8.20.' 

Laura's limbs seemed to waver beneath her. A step 
on the platform. She turned and saw Hubert Mason. 


Mason thought she would faint. He caught her arm 
to support her. The porter looked at them curiously, 
then moved away, smiling to himself. 

Laura tottered to the railing at the back of the platform 
and supported herself against it. 

' What are you here for ? ' she said to him in a voice 
a voice of hatred a voice that stung. 

He glanced down upon her, pulling his fair moustache. 
His handsome face was deeply flushed. 

' I only heard there was no train on, from the guard, 
just as you were starting so I jumped into the next 
carriage that I might be of some use to you here if I could. 
You needn't look at me like that,' he broke out violently 
' I couldn't help it ! ' 

' You might have found out,' she said hoarsely. 

' Say you believe I did it on purpose ! to get you into 
trouble ! you may as well. You'd believe anything bad 
about me, I know.' 


Already there was a new note in his voice, a hoarse, 
tyrannous note, as though he felt her in his power. In 
her terror the girl recalled that wild drive from the 
Browhead dance, with its disgusts and miseries. Was 
he sober now ? What was she to do ? how was she to 
protect herself ? She felt a passionate conviction that she 
was trapped, that he had planned the whole catastrophe, 
knowing well what would be thought of her at Bannisdale 
in the neighbourhood. 

She looked round her, making a desperate effort to 
keep down exhaustion and excitement. The main-line 
train had just gone, and the station-master, with a lantern 
in his hand, was coming up the platform. 

Laura went to meet him. 

' I've made a mistake and missed the last train to 
Marsland. Can I sit here in the station till the morning ? ' 

The station-master looked at her sharply then at the 
man standing a yard or two behind her. The young lady 
had to his eye a wild dishevelled appearance. Her fair 
hair had escaped its bonds in all directions, and was hanging 
loose upon her neck behind. Her hat had been crumpled 
and bent by the child's embracing arms ; the little muslin 
dress showed great smears of coaldust here and there, 
and the light gloves were black. 

1 No, Miss,' he said, with rough decision. ' You can't sit 
in the station. There'll be one more train down directly 
the express and then we shut the station for the night.' 

'How long will that be?' she asked faintly. He 
looked at his watch. 

' Thirty-five minutes. You can go to the hotel, Miss. 
It's quite respectable.' 

He gave her another sharp glance. He was a Dis- 
senter, a man of northern piety, strict as to his own 
morals and other people's. What on earth was she doing 
here, in that untidy state, with a young man, at an hour 


going on for midnight ? Missed train ? The young man 
said nothing about missed trains. 

But just as he was turning away the girl detained 

' How far is it across the sands to Marsland station ? ' 

' Eight miles, about shortest way.' 

' And the road ? ' 

' Best part of fifteen.' 

He walked off, throwing a parting word behind him. 

' Now understand, please I can't have anybody here 
when we lock up for the night.' 

Laura hardly heard him. She was looking first to one 
side of the station, then to the other. The platform and 
line stood raised under the bill. Just outside the station 
to the north, the sands of the estuary stretched bare and 
wide under the moon. In the other direction, on her right 
hand, the hills rose steeply, and close above the line a 
limestone quarry made a huge gash in the fell-side. She 
stood and stared at the wall of glistening rock that caught 
the moon at the little railing at the top, sharp against 
the sky at the engine-house and empty trucks. 

Suddenly she turned back towards Mason. He stood 
a few yards away on the platform, watching her, and pos- 
sessed by a dumb rage of jealousy that entirely prevented 
him from playing any rational or plausible part. Her 
bitter tone her evident misery her refusal an hour 
or two before to let him be her escort home all that 
he had feared and suspected that morning during the 
past few weeks these things made a dark tumult about 
him, in which nothing else was audible than the alternate 
cries of anger and passion. 

But she walked up to him boldly. She tried to laugh. 

' Well ! it is very unlucky and very disagreeable. But 
the station-master says there is a respectable inn. Will 
you go and see while I wait ? If it won't do if it isn't a 


place I can go to I'll rest here while you ask, and then 
I shall walk on over the sands to Marsland. It's eight 
miles I can do it.' 

He exclaimed : 

' No, you can't.' His voice had a note of which he was 
unconscious, a note that increased the girl's fear of him. 
1 Not unless you let me take you. And I suppose you'd 
sooner die than put up with another hour of me ! The 
sands are dangerous. You can ask them.' 

He nodded towards the men in the distance. 

She put a force on herself, and smiled. ' Why shouldn't 
you take me ? But go and look at the inn first please ! 
I'm very tired. Then come and report.' 

She settled herself on a seat, and drew a little white 
shawl about her. From its folds her small face looked up 
softened and beseeching. 

He lingered his mind half doubt, half violence. He 
meant to force her to listen to him either now, or in the 
morning. For all her scorn, she should know, before 
they parted, something of this misery that burnt in him. 
And he would say, too, all that it pleased him to say of 
that priest-ridden fool at Bannisdale. 

She seemed so tiny, so fragile a thing, as he looked 
down upon her. An ugly sense of power came to con- 
sciousness in him. Coupled with despair, indeed ! For 
it was her very delicacy, her gentlewoman's grace mad- 
deningly plain to him through all the stains of the steel 
works that made hope impossible, that thrust him down 
as her inferior for ever. 

1 Promise you won't attempt anything by yourself 
promise you'll sit here till I come back,' he said, in a tone 
that sounded like a threat. 

' Of course.' 

He still hesitated. Then a glance at the sands decided 
him. How, on their bare openness, could she escape 



him ? if she did give him the slip. Here and there 
streaks of mist lay thin and filmy in the moonlight. But 
as a rule the sands were clear, the night without a 

' All right. I'll be back in ten minutes less ! ' 

She nodded. He hurried along the platform, asked a 
question or two of the station-master, and disappeared. 

She turned eagerly to watch. She saw him run down 
the road outside the station past a grove of trees out 
into the moonlight again. Then the road bent and she 
saw him no more. Just beyond the bend appeared the 
first houses of the little town. 

She rose. Her heart beat so, it seemed to her to be a 
hostile thing hindering her. A panic terror drove her on, 
but exhaustion and physical weakness caught at her will, 
and shod her feet with lead. 

She walked down the platform, however, to the station- 

' The gentleman has gone to inquire at the inn. Will 
you kindly tell him when he comes back that I had made 
up my mind after all to walk to Marsland ? He can catch 
me up on the sands.' 

' Very good, Miss. But the sands aren't very safe for 
those that don't know 'em. If you're a stranger you'd 
better not risk it.' 

'I'm not a stranger, and my cousin knows the way 
perfectly. You can send him after me. 1 

She left the station. In her preoccupation she never 
gave another thought to the station-master. 

But there was something in the whole matter that 
roused that person's curiosity. He walked along the 
raised platform to a point where he could see what 
became of the young lady. 

There was only one exit from the station. But just 
outside, the road from the town passed infa tunnel under the 


line. To get at the sands one must double back on the line 
after leaving the station, walk through the tunnel, and 
then leave the road to your right. The stony edge of the 
sands came up to the road, which shot away eastwards 
along the edge of the estuary, a straight white line that 
gradually lost itself in the night. 

The man watching saw the small figure emerge. But 
the girl never once turned to the tunnel. She walked 
straight towards the town, and he lost sight of her in a 
dense patch of shadow made by some overhanging trees 
about a hundred yards from the station. 

' Upon my word, she's a deep 'un ! ' he said, turning 
away ' it beats me fair.' 

' Hi ! ' shouted the porter from the end of the platform. 
* There's a message just come in, sir.' 

The station-master turned to the telegraph office in 
some astonishment. It was not the ordinary signal 
message, or the down signal would have dropped. 

He read off. ' If a lady arrives by 10.20, too late 
for Marsland train, kindly help her make arrangements 
for night. Direct her to White Hart Inn, tell her 
will meet her Marsland first train. Reply. Helbeck, 

The station-master stared at the message. It was, of 
course, long after hours and Mr. Helbeck whose name 
he knew must have had considerable difficulty in send- 
ing the message from Marsland, where the station would 
have been shut before ten o'clock, after the arrival of the 
last train. 

Another click and the rattle of the signal outside. 
The express was at hand. He was not a man capable of 
much reasoning at short notice, and he had already drawn 
a number of unfavourable inferences from the conduct of 
the two people who had just been hanging about the 
station. So he hastily replied : 



' Lady left station, said intended to walk by sands, but 
has gone towards town. Gentleman with her.' 
Then he rushed out to attend to the express. 

But Laura had not gone to the town. From the plat- 
form she had clearly seen a path on the fell-side, leading 
over some broken ground to the great quarry above the 
station. The grove of trees had hidden the starting of the 
path from her, but some outlet into the road there must 
be ; she had left the station in quest of it. 

And as soon as she reached the trees a gate appeared 
in the wall to the left. She passed through it, and hurried 
up the steep path beyond it. Again and again she hid 
herself behind the boulders with which the fell was 
strewn, lest her moving figure should >be seen from below 
often she stopped in terror, haunted by the sound of 
steps, imagining a breath, a voice, behind her. 

She ran and stumbled ran again tore her light 
dress gulped down the sob in her throat fearing at 
every step to faint, and so be taken by the pursuer ; or to 
slip into some dark hole the ground seemed full of them 
and be lost there still worse, found there ! wounded, 

But at last the slope is climbed. She sees before her 
a small platform, on a black network of supporting posts 
an engine-house and beyond, truck lines with half a 
dozen empty trucks upon them, lines that run away in 
front of her along the descending edge of the first low hill 
she has been climbing. 

Further on, a dark gulf then the dazzling wall of the 
quarry. A patch of deepest, blackest shadow, at the seaward 
end of the engine-house, caught her eye. She gained it, 
sank down within it, strengthless and gasping. 

Surely no one could see her here ! Yet presently she 
perceived beside her a low pile of planks within the 


shadow, and for greater protection crept behind them. 
Her eyes topped them. The whole lower world, the 
roofs of the station, the railway line, the sands beyond, 
lay clear before her in the moon. 

Then her nerve gave way. She laid her head against 
the stones of the engine-house and sobbed. All her self- 
command, her cool clearness was gone. The shock of 
disappointment, the terrors of this sudden loneliness, the 
nightmare of her stumbling flight coming upon a nature 
already shaken, and powers already lowered, had worked 
with miserable effect. She felt degraded by her own 
fears. But the one fear at the root of all, that included 
and generated the rest, held her in so crippling, so torturing 
a vice, that do what she would, she could not fight herself 
could only weep and weep. 

And yet supposing she had walked over the sands with 
her cousin, would anybody have thought so ill of her 
would Hubert himself have dared to offer her any dis- 
respect ? 

Then again, why not go to the inn ? Could she not 
easily have found a woman on whom to throw herself, 
who would have befriended her ? 

Or why not have tried to get a carriage ? Fifteen 
miles to Marsland eighteen to Bannisdale. Even in this 
small place, and at midnight, the promise of money enough 
would probably have found her a fly and a driver. 

But these thoughts only rose to be shuddered away. 
All her rational being was for the moment clouded. The 
presence of her cousin had suddenly aroused in her 
so strong a disgust, so hot a misery, that flight from him 
was all she thought of. On the sands, at the inn, in a 
carriage, he would still have been there, within reach of 
her, or beside her. The very dream of it made her 
crouch more closely behind the pile of planks. 

The moon is at her height ; across the bay, mountains 



and lower hills rise towards her, ' ambitious ' for that 
silver hallowing she sheds upon shore and bay. The night 
is one sigh of softness. The rivers glide glistening to the 
sea. Even the shining roofs of the little station and the 
white line of the road have beauty, mingle in the common 
spell. But on Laura it does not work. She is in the 
hall at Bannisdale on the Marsland platform in the 
woodland roads through which Mr. Helbeck has. driven 

No ! by now he is in his study. She sees the crucifix, 
the books, the little altar. There he sits he is thinking, 
perhaps, of the girl who is out in the night with her 
drunken cousin, the girl whom he has warned, protected, 
thought for in a hundred ways who had planned this day 
out of mere wilfulness who cannot possibly have made 
any honest mistake as to times and trains. 

She wrings her hands. Oh ! TDut Polly must have 
explained, must have convinced him that owing to a prig's 
self-confidence they were all equally foolish, equally mis- 
led. Unless Hubert ? But then, how is she at fault ? 

In imagination she says it all through Polly's lips. The 
words glow hot and piteous, carrying her soul with them. 
But that face in the oak-chair does not change. 

Yet in flashes the mind works clearly; it rises and 
rebukes this surging pain that breaks upon it like waves 
upon a reef. Folly ! If a girl's name were indeed at 
the mercy of such chances, why should one care take 
any trouble? Would such a ravening world be worth 
respecting, worth the fearing ? 

It is her very innocence and ignorance that rack her. 
Why should there be these mysterious suspicions and 
penalties in the world? Her mind holds nothing that 
can answer. But she trembles none the less. 

How strange that she should tremble ! Two months 
before, would the same adventure have affected her at all ? 


Why, she would have laughed it down; would have 
walked, singing perhaps, across the sands with Hubert. 

Some secret cause has weakened the will paralysed 
all the old daring. Will he never even scold or argue 
with her again? Nothing but a cold tolerance bare 
civility and protection for Augustina's sake ? But never 
the old rare kindness never ! He has been much away, 
and she has been secretly bitter, ready to revenge herself 
by some caprice, like a crossed child ! But the days of 
return the hours of expectation, of recollection ! 

Her heart opens to her own reading like some great 
flower that bursts its sheath. But such pain oh, such 
pain ! She presses her little fingers on her breast, trying 
to drive back this humiliating truth that is escaping her, 
tearing its way to the light. 

How is it that contempt and war can change like this ? 
She seems to have been fighting against something that 
all the time had majesty, had charm that bore within 
itself the forces that tame a woman. In all ages the 
woman falls before the ascetic before the man who can 
do without her. The intellect may rebel ; but beneath its 
revolt the heart yields. Oh ! to be guided, loved, crushed 
if need be, by the mystic, whose first thought can never 
be for you who puts his own soul, and a hundred 
torturing claims upon it, before your lips, your eyes! 
Strange passion of it ! it rushes through the girl's nature 
in one blending storm of longing and despair. . . . 

. . . What sound was that ? 

She raised her head. A call came from the sands a 
distant call, floating through the night. Another and 
another! She stood up she sprang on the heap of 
planks, straining her eyes. Yes surely she saw a 
figure on that wide expanse of sand, moving quickly, 
moving away? And one after another the cries rose, 
waking dim echoes from the shore. 


It was Hubert, no doubt Hubert in pursuit, and 
calling to her, lest she should come unawares upon the 
danger spots that marked the sands. 

She stood and watched the moving speck till it was 
lost in a band of shadow. Then she saw it no more, and 
the cries ceased. 

Would he be at Bannisdale before she was? She 
dashed away her tears, and smiled. Ah ! Let him seek 
her there ! let him herald her. Light broke upon her ; 
she began to rise from her misery. 

But she must sleep a little, or she would never have 
the strength to begin her walk with the dawn. For w r alk 
she would, instead of waiting for tardy trains. She saw 
herself climbing the fell she would never trust herself 
to the road, the open road, where cousins might be 
hiding after all finding her way through back lanes into 
sleeping villages, waking some one, getting a carriage 
to a point above the park, then slipping down to 
the door in the garden and so entering by the chapel, 
when entrance was possible. She would go straight to 
Augustina. Poor Augustina ! there would be little sleep 
for her to-night. The tears rose again in the girl's eyes. 

She drew her thin shawl round her, and crept again 
into the shadow of the engine-house. Not three hours, 
and the day would have returned. But already the dawn- 
breath seemed to be blowing through the night. For it 
had grown cold and her limbs shivered. 

. . . She woke often in terror, pursued by sheets of 
flame, or falling through unfathomed space ; haunted all 
through by a sense of doom, an awful expectancy like 
one approaching some grisly Atreus-threshold and con- 
scious of the death behind it. But sleep seized her 
again, a cold tormented sleep, and the hours passed. 

Meanwhile the light that had hardly gone came well- 
ing gently back. The stars paled; the high mountains 


wrapped themselves in clouds; a clear yellow mounted 
from the east, flooding the dusk with cheerfulness. Then 
the birds woke. The diminished sands, on which the 
tide was creeping, sparkled with sea-birds ; the air was 
soon alive with their white curvec. 

With a start Laura awoke. Above the eastern fells 
scarlet feather-clouds were hovering ; the sun rushed upon 
them as she looked; and in that blue dimness to the 
north lay Bannisdale. 

She sprang up, stared half aghast at the black depths 
of the quarry, beside which she had been sleeping, then 
searched the fell with her eyes. Yes, there was the 
upward path. She struck into it, praying that friend 
and houses might meet her soon. 

Meanwhile it seemed that nothing moved in the world 
but she. 



IT was on the stroke of midnight when the message 
from Braeside was handed to Mr. Helbeck by the sleepy 
station-master, who had been dragged by that gentle- 
man's urgency from his first slumbers in the neat cottage 
beside the line. 

The master of Bannisdale thrust the slip of paper 
into his pocket, and stood an instant with bent head, as 
though reflecting. 

' Thank you, Mr. Brough,' he said at last. ' I will not 
ask you to do anything more. Good-night.' 

Eightful reward passed, and Mr. Helbeck left the 
station. Outside, his pony-cart stood tied to the station 

Before entering it he debated with himself whether 
he should drive on to the town of Marsland, get horses 
there and then, and make for Braeside at once. 

He could get there in about a couple of hours. And 

To search a sleeping town for Miss Fountain would 
that mend matters ? 

A carriage arriving at two o'clock in the morning 
the inn awakened no lady there, perhaps for what was 
to prevent her having found decent shelter in some quite 
other quarter ? Was he to make a house-to-house visita- 
tion at that hour ? How wise ! How quenching to the 
gossip that must in any case get abroad ! 


He turned the pony homewards. 

Augustina, all shawls and twitching, opened the door 
to him. A message had been sent on to her an hour 
before to the effect that Miss Fountain had missed her 
train, and was not likely to arrive that night. 

' Oh, Alan ! where is she ? ' 

' I got a telegram through to the station-master. 
Don't be anxious, Augustina. I asked him to direct her 
to the inn. The old White Hart, they say, has passed 
into new management and is quite comfortable. She 
may arrive by the first train 7.20. Anyway I shall 
meet it.' 

Augustina pursued him with fretful inquiries and 
surmises. Helbeck, pale and gloomy, threw himself 
down on the settle, and produced the story of the 
accident, so far as the garrulous and incoherent Polly 
had enabled him to understand it. Fresh wails on 
Augustina's part. What a horrible, horrible thing ! Why, 
of course the child was terribly upset hurt perhaps or 
she would never have been so foolish about the trains. 
And now one could not even be sure that she had found 
a place to sleep in ! She would come home a wreck a 
simple wreck. Helbeck moved uneasily. 

' She was not hurt, according to Miss Mason.' 

' I suppose young Mason saw her off? ' 

1 1 suppose so.' 

' What were they all about, to make such a blunder ? ' 

Helbeck shrugged his shoulders, and at last he 
succeeded in quieting his sister, by dint of a resolute 
suppression of all but the most ordinary and comforting 

' Well, after all, thank goodness, Laura has a great 
deal of common sense she always had,' said Mrs. Foun- 
tain, with a clearing countenance. 

1 Of course. She will be here, I have little doubt, 


before you are ready for your breakfast. It is unlucky, 
but it should not disturb your night's rest. Please go to 
bed.' With some difficulty he drove her there. 

Augustina retired, but it was to spend a broken and 
often tearful night. Alan might say what he liked it 
was all most disagreeable. Why ! would the inn take 
her in ? Mrs. Fountain had often been told that an inn, 
a respectable inn, required a trunk as well as a person. 
And Laura had not even a bag positively not a hand- 
bag. A reflection which was the starting-point of a 
hundred new alarms, under which poor Mrs. Fountain 
tossed till the morning. 

Meanwhile Helbeck went to his study. It was nearly 
one o'clock when he entered it, but the thought of sleep 
never occurred to him. He took out of his pocket the 
telegram from Braeside, re-read it, and destroyed it. 

So Mason was with her for of course it was Mason. 
Not one word of such a conjunction was to be gathered 
from the sister. She had clearly supposed that Laura 
would start alone and arrive alone. Or was she in the 
plot? Had Mason simply arranged the whole ' mistake,' 
jumped into the same train with her, and confronted her 
at the junction ? 

Helbeck moved blindly up and down the room, 
traversed by one of those storms of excitement to which 
the men of his stock were liable. The thought of those 
two figures leaving the Braeside station together at mid- 
night roused in him a madness half jealousy, half pride. 
He saw the dainty head, the cloud of gold under the hat, 
the pretty gait, the girlish waist, all the points of delicacy 
or charm he had worshipped through his pain these many 
weeks. To think of them in the mere neighbourhood of 
that coarse and sensual lad had always been profanation. 
And now who would not be free to talk, to spatter her 


girlish name? The sheer unseemliness of such a kin- 
ship ! such a juxtaposition. 

If he could only know the true reason of that 
persistency she had shown about the expedition, in 
the face of Augustina's wailings, and his own silence ? 
She had been dull heaven knows she had been 
dull at Bannisdale, for these two months. On every 
occasion of his return from those intermediate absences 
to which he had forced himself, he had perceived 
that she drooped, that she was dumbly at war with the 
barriers that shut her youth away from change and 
laughter, and the natural amusements, flatteries and 
courtings that wait, or should wait, on sweet-and-twenty. 
More than once he had realised the fever pulsing through 
the girl's unrest. Of course she was dissatisfied and 
starved. She was not of the sort that accepts the rdle 
of companion or sick nurse without a murmur. What 
could he do he, into whose being she had crept with 
torturing power he who could not marry her even if she 
should cease to hate him who could only helplessly put 
land and distance between them ? And then, who knows 
what a girl plans, to what she will stoop, out of the mere 
ebullience and rush of her youth with what haloes she 
will surround even the meanest heads ? Her blood calls 
her not this man or that ! She takes her decisions 
behind that veil of mystery that masks the woman 
at her will. And who knows who can know? A 
mother, perhaps. Not Augustina not he nor another. 

Groans broke from him. In vain he scourged himself 
and the vileness of his own thoughts. In vain he said to 
himself, ' All her instincts, her preferences, are pure, guile 
less, delicate I could swear it, I who have watched her 
every look and motion.' Temper? yes. Caprice? yes. 
A hundred immaturities and rawnesses ? yes ! but at 
the root of all, the most dazzling, the most convincing 


maidenliness. Not the down-dropt eyes, the shrinking 
modesties of your old Christian or Catholic types far from 
it. But something that, as you dwelt upon it, seemed to 
make doubt a mere folly. 

And yet his very self-assurances, his very protests left 
him in torment. There is something in the Catholic dis- 
cipline on points of sex-relation that perhaps weakens 
a man's instinctive confidence in women. Evil and its 
varieties, in this field, are pressed upon his thoughts per- 
petually with a scholastic fulness so complete, a deductive 
frankness so compelling, that nothing stands against the 
process. He sees corruption everywhere dreads it every- 
where. There is no part of its empire, or its action, that 
his imagination is allowed to leave in shadow. It is the 
confessional that works. The devout Catholic sees all the 
world sub specie peccati. The flesh seems to him always 
ready to fall the devil always at hand. 

Little restless proud creature ! What a riddle she has 
been to him all the time flitting about the house so pale 
and inaccessible, so silent, too, in general, since that night 
when he had wrestled with her in the drawing-room. 
One moment of fresh battle between them there has been 
in the park on the subject of old Scarsbrook. Pre- 
posterous ! that she should think for one moment she 
could be allowed to confess herself and so bring all the 
low talk of the neighbourhood about her ears. He could 
hear the old man's plaintive cogitations over the strange 
experience which had blanched his hair and beard and 
brought him a visible step nearer to his end. ' Soombody 
towd my owd woman tudther day, Misther Helbeck, at 
yoong Mason o' t' Browhead had been i' th' park that 
neet. Happen tha'll tell me it was soom gell body he'd 
been coortin. Noa ! he doan't gaa about wi' the likes 
o' thattens ! Theer was never a soun' ov her feet, Misther 
Helbeck 1 She gaed ower t' grass like a bit cloud i' 


summer, an she wor sma' an nesh as a wagtail on t' 
steeans. I ha seen aw maks o' gells, but this one bet 'em 
aw." And after that, to think of her pouring herself out 
in impetuous explanation to the old peasant and his wife ! 
It had needed a strong will to stop her. ' Mr. Helbeck, I 
wish to tell the truth, and I ought to tell it ! And your 
arguments have no weight with me whatever.' 

But he had made them prevail. And she had not 
punished him too severely. A little more pallor, a little 
more silence for a time that was all ! 

A score of poignant recollections laid hold upon him 
as he paced the night away. That music in the summer 
dusk the softness of her little face the friendliness 
first, incredible friendliness ! of her lingering hand. Next 
morning he had banished himself to Paris, on a Catholic 
mission devised for the purpose. He had gone, torn with 
passion gone, in the spirit that drives the mystic through 
all the forms of self-torture that religious history records 
ad majorem Dei gloriam. He had returned to find her 
frozen and hostile as before all wilfulness with Augustina 
all contradiction with himself. The Froswick plan 
was already on foot and he had furthered it out of a 
piteous wish to propitiate her, to make her happy. What 
harm could happen to her ? The sister would go with her 
and bring her back. Why must he always play the dis- 
obliging and tyrannical host ? Could he undo the blood- 
relationship between her and the Masons ? If for mere 
difficulty and opposition's sake there were really any 
fancy in her mind for this vulgar lad, perhaps after all 
it were the best thing to let her see enough of him 
for disenchantment ! There are instincts that can be 

Such had been the thoughts of the morning. They do 
not help him through these night hours, when, in spite of 
all the arguments of common sense, he recurs again and 


again to the image of her as alone, possibly defenceless, 
in Mason's company. 

Suddenly he perceived that the light was changing. 
He put his lamp out and threw back the curtain. A pale 
gold was already creeping up the east. The strange yew 
forms hi the garden began to emerge from the night. A 
huge green lion showed his jaw, his crown, his straight 
tail quivering in the morning breeze ; a peacock nodded 
stiffly on its pedestal ; a great H that had been reared 
upon its post-supports before Dryden's death stood black 
against the morning sky, and everywhere between the 
clumsy crowding forms were roses, straggling and dew- 
drenched, or wallflowers in a June wealth of bloom, 
or peonies that made a crimson flush amid the yews. 
The old garden, so stiff and sad through all the rest of 
the year, was in its moment of glory. 

Helbeck opened one of the lattices of the oriel and 
stood there gazing. Six months before there had been a 
passionate oneness between him and his inheritance, 
between his nature and the spirit of his race. Their 
privations and persecutions, their faults, their dumb or 
stupid fidelities, their very vices even, had been the 
source in him of a constant and secret affection. For 
their vices came from their long martyrdom, and their 
martyrdom from their faith. New influences had worked 
upon himself, influences linking him with a more Eu- 
ropean and militant Catholicism, as compared with that 
starved and local type from which he sprang. But 
through it all his family pride, his sense of ancestry with 
all its stimulus and obligations, had but grown. He was 
proud of calamity, impoverishment, isolation ; they were 
the scars on pilgrims' feet honour-marks left by the 
oppressor. His bare and ruined house, his melancholy 
garden, where not a bed or path had suffered change since 
the man who planned them had refused to comply with the 


Test Act, and so forfeited his seat in Parliament ; his 
dwindling resources, his hermit's life and fare were they 
not all joy to him ? For years he had desired to be a 
Jesuit ; the obligations of his place and name had stood 
in the way. And short of being a son of St. Ignatius, 
he exulted in being a Helbeck the more stripped and 
despised, the more happy with those maimed genera- 
tions behind him, and the triumph of his faith, his faith 
and theirs, gilding the mind's horizon. 

And now after just four months of temptation he 
stands there, racked with desire for this little pagan 
creature, this girl without a single Christian senti- 
ment or tradition, the child of an infidel father, herself 
steeped in denial and cradled in doubt, with nothing 
meekly feminine about her on which to press new 
stamps and knowing well why she denies, if not 
personally and consciously, at least by a kind of inheri- 

The tangled garden, slowly yielding its splendours to 
the morning light, the walls of the old house, springing 
sheer from the grass like the native rock itself for the 
first time he feels a gulf between himself and them. His 
ideals waver in the soul's darkened air ; the breath of 
passion drives them to and fro. 

With an anguished ' Domine, exaudi 1 ' he snatched 
himself from the window, and leaving the room he crossed 
the hall, where the Tudor badges on the ceiling, the 
arms of ' Elizabetha Begina ' above the great hearth were 
already clear in the cold dawn, and made his way as 
noiselessly as possible to the chapel. 

Those strange figures on the wall had already shaken 
the darkness from them. Wing rose on wing, halo on 
halo, each face turning in a mystic passion to the altar 
and its steadfast light. 

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filiiis Patris, qui tollis 


2 5 8 


peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui 
sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. 

In prayer and passionate meditation he passed through 
much of the time that had still to be endured. But mean- 
while he knew well, in his sinful and shrinking mind, that, 
for that night at least, he was only praying because he 
could do nothing else nothing that would give him Laura, 
or deliver him from the fears that shook his inmost being. 

A little before six Helbeck left the chapel. He must 
bathe and dress then to the farm for the pony-cart. If 
she did not arrive by the first train he would get a horse 
at Marsland and drive on to Braeside. But first he must 
take care to leave a message for Mrs. Denton, whose 
venomous face, as she stood listening the night before to 
his story of Miss Fountain's mishaps, recurred to him 

The housekeeper would not be stirring yet, perhaps, 
for an hour. He went back to his study to write her 
some short directions covering the hours of his possible 

The room, as he entered it, struck him as musty and 
airless, in spite of the open lattice. Instinctively, before 
writing, he went to throw another window wide. In 
rushed a fresh rose-scented air, and he leant forward an 
instant, letting its cool current flow through him. 

Something white caught his eye beneath the window. 

Laura slowly raised her head. 

Had she fallen asleep in her fatigue ? 

Helbeck, bending over her, saw her eyes unclose. 
She looked at him as she had never looked before 
with a sad and spiritual simplicity as though she had waked 
in a world where all may tell the truth, and there are 
no veils left between man and woman. 


Her light hat fell back from her brow ; her delicate 
pinched features, with the stamp of suffering upon them, 
met his look so sweetly so frankly ! 

' I was very tired,' she said, in a new voice, a voice of 
appealing trust. ' And there was no door open.' 

She raised her small hand, and he took it in his, 
trembling through all his man's strength. 

' I was just starting to see if the train had brought 

1 No I walked a great part of the way, at least. 
Will you help me up? It's very foolish, but I can't 

She rose, tottering, and leaning heavily upon his hand. 
She drew her own across her forehead. 

' It's only hunger. And I had some milk. Was 
Augustina in a great way ? ' 

1 She was anxious, of course. We both were.' 

1 Yes ! it was stupid. But look ' she clung to him. 

* Will you take me into the drawing-room, and get ma 
some wine before I see Augustina ? ' 
' Lean on me.' 

She obeyed, and he led her in. The drawing-room door 
was open, and she sank into the nearest chair. As she 
looked up she saw the Eomney lady shining from the 
wall in the morning sunlight. The blue-eyed beauty 
looked down, as though with a careless condescension, 
upon the pale and tattered Laura. But Laura was 
neither envious nor ashamed. As Helbeck left her to 
get wine, che lay still and white ; but in the solitude of 
the room while he was gone, a little smile, ghostly as 
the dawn itself, fluttered suddenly beneath her closed 
lids and was gone again. 

When he returned, she did her best to drink and eat 
what she was told. But her exhaustion became painfully 
apparent, and he hung over her, torn between anxiety, 



remorse, and the pulsations of a frantic joy, hardly to be 
concealed, even by him. 

' Let me wake Augustina, and bring her down ! ' 
No wait a little. I have been in a quarry all night, 
you see ! That isn't resting ! ' 

' I tried to direct you I managed to telegraph to the 
station-master but it must have missed. I asked him to 
direct you to the inn.' 

' Oh, the inn ! ' She shuddered suddenly. ' No, I 
couldn't go to the inn." 

' Why what frightened you ? ' 

He sat down by her, speaking very gently, as one does 
to a child. 

She was silent. His heart beat his ear hungered for 
the next word. 

She lifted her tired lids. 

' My cousin was there at the junction. I did not 
want him. I did not wish to be with him ; he had no 
right whatever to follow me. So I sent him to the inn, 
to ask and I ' 

'You ?' 

' I hid myself in the quarry while he was gone. When 
he came back, he went on over the sands, calling for me 
perhaps he thought I was lost in one of the bad places.' 

She gave a little whimsical sigh, as though it pleased 
her to think of the lad's possible frights and wanderings. 

Helbeck bent towards her. 

' And so to avoid him ? ' 

She followed his eye like a child. 

' I had noticed a quarry beside the line. I climbed up 
there under the engine-house and sat there till it was 
light. You see ' her breath fluttered ' I couldn't I 
couldn't be sure he was sober. I dare say it was 
ridiculous but I was so startled and he had no 
business ' 


1 He had given you no hint that he wished to 
accompany you ? ' 

Something drove, persecuted the man to ask it in that 
hoarse, shaking tone. 

She did not answer. She simply locked at him, while 
the tears rose softly in her clear eyes. The question 
seemed to hurt her. Yet there was neither petulance nor 
evasion. She was Laura, and not Laura the pale sprite 
of herself. One might have fancied her clothed already 
in the heavenly supersensual body, with the pure heart 
pulsing visibly through the spirit frame. 

Helbeck rose, closed the door softly, came back and 
stood before her, struggling to speak. But she intercepted 
him. There was a look of suffering, a frown. 

' I saw a man die yesterday,' she said abruptly. ' Did 
Polly tell you?' 

' I heard of the accident, and that you had stayed to 
comfort the child.' 

1 It seems very heartless but somehow as ws were 
in the train I had almost forgotten it. I was so glad to 
get away from Froswick to be coming back. And I was 
very tired, of course and never dreamt of anything going 
wrong. Oh no I I haven't forgotten really I never 
shall forget.' 

She pressed her hands together shuddering. Helbeck 
was still silent. 

But it was a silence that pierced. Suddenly she 
flushed deeply. The spell that held her that strange 
transparency of soul broke up. 

' Naturally I was afraid lest Augustina should be 
anxious,' she said hastily, ' and lest it should be bad for 

Helbeck knelt down beside her. She sank back in 
her chair, staring at him. 

'You were glad to be coming back to be coming 


here ? ' he said in his deep voice. ' Is that true ? Do you 
know that I have sat here all night in misery ? ' 

The struggling breath checked the answer, cheeks 
and lips lost every vestige of their returning red. Only 
her eyes spoke. Helbeck came closer. Suddenly he 
snatched the little form to his breast. She made one 
small effort to free herself, then yielded. Soul and body 
were too weak the ecstasy of his touch too great. 

' You can't love me you can't.' 

She had torn herself away. They were sitting side by 
side ; but now she would not even give him her hand. 
That one trembling kiss had changed their lives. But in 
both natures passion was proud and fastidious from its 
birth ; it could live without much caressing. 

As she spoke he met her gaze with a smiling emotion. 
The long stern face in its grizzled setting of hair and 
beard had suffered a transformation that made it almost 
strange to her. He was like a man loosed from many 
bonds, and dazzled by the effects of his own will. The 
last few minutes had made him young again. But she 
looked at him wistfully once or twice, as though her 
fancy nursed something which had grown dear to it. 

' You can't love me,' she repeated ; ' when did you 
begin ? You didn't love me yesterday, you know nor 
the day before.' 

' Why do you suppose I went away the day after the 
ghost ? ' he asked her slowly. 

' Because you had business or you were tired of my 
very undesirable company.' 

' Put it as you like ! Do you explain my recent 
absences in the same way ? ' 

' Oh ! I can't explain you ! ' She raised her shoulders, 
but her face trembled. ' I never tried.' 

' Let me show you how. I went because you were here/ 


' And you were afraid that you might love me ? Was 
it such a hard fate ? ' She turned her head away. 

' What have I to offer you ? ' he said passionately ; 
' poverty an elderly lover a life uncongenial to you.' 

She slipped a hand nearer to him, but her face clouded 
a little. 

' It's the very strangest thing in the world,' she said 
deliberately, ' that we should love each other. What can 
it mean ? I hated you when I came, and meant to hate 
you. And ' she sat up and spoke with an emphasis that 
brought the colour back into her face ' I can never, 
never be a Catholic.' 

He looked at her gravely. 

' That I understand.' 

' You know that I was brought up apart from religion, 
altogether ? ' 

His eye saddened. Then he raised her hand and 
kissed it. The pitying tenderness of the action almost 
made her break down. But she tried to snatch her hand 

' It was papa's doing, and I shall never blame him 
never ! ' 

' I have been in Belgium lately,' he said, holding the 
hand close, ' at a great Catholic town Louvain where 
I was educated. I went to an old priest I know, and to 
a Eeverend Mother who has sent me Sisters once or 
twice, and I begged of them both prayers for your 
father's soul.' 

She stared. The painful tears rushed into her eyes. 

'I thought that for you that was all sure and 
settled long ago.' 

' I don't think you know much about us, little heretic ! 
I have prayed for your father's soul at every mass since 
you remember that Eosary service in April ? ' 

She nodded. 


' And what you said to me afterwards, about the child 
and doubt ? I stayed long in the chapel that night. 
It was borne in upon me, with a certainty I shall never 
lose, that all was well with your poor father. Our 
Blessed Lord has revealed to him in that other life what 
an invincible ignorance hid from him here.' 

He spoke with a beautiful simplicity, like a man dealing 
with all that was most familiarly and yet sacredly real to 
his daily mind and thought. 

She trembled. Words and ideas of the kind were still 
all strange and double-edged to her suggesting on the 
one side the old feelings of contempt and resistance, on 
the other a new troubling of the waters of the heart. 

She leant her brow against the back of the old sofa on 
which they were sitting. ' And and no prayers for me ? ' 
she said huskily. 

' Dear love ! at all times in all places at my down- 
sitting and mine uprising/ he answered every word an 

She was silent for a moment, then she dashed the 
tears from her eyes. 

' All the same, I shall never be a Catholic,' she repeated 
resolutely ; ' and how can you marry an unbeliever ? ' 

' My Church allows it under certain conditions.' 

Her mind flew over the conditions. She had heard 
them named on one or two occasions during the preceding 
months. Then she turned away, dreading his eye. 

1 Suppose I am jealous of your Church and hate her? ' 

' No ! you will love her for my sake.' 

' I can't promise. There are two selves in me. All 
your Catholic friends Father Leadham the Eeverend 
Mother will be in despair.' 

She saw him wince. But he spoke firmly. ' I ask 
only what is lawful. I am free in such a matter to choose 
my own path under my conscience.' 


She said nothing for a little. But she pondered on all 
that he might be facing and sacrificing for such a marriage. 
Once a cloud of sudden misgiving descended upon her, as 
though a bird had brushed her with its black wing. But 
she shook it away. Her little hand crept back to him 
while her face was still hidden from him. 

' I ought not to marry you but but I will. There 
take me ! will you guide me ? ' 

' With all my strength ! ' 

'Will you fight me?' 

He laughed. ' To my best of my ability when I 
must. Did I do it well that night about the ghost ? ' 

She shrugged her shoulders half laughing, half 

' No ! you were violent impossible. Will you 
never, never let me get the upper hand ? ' 

' How would you do it ? little atom ! ' He bent 
over her, trying to see her face, but she pressed him away 
from her. 

' Make me afraid to mock at your beliefs ! ' she said 
passionately ; ' make me afraid ! there is no other 

1 Laura ! ' 

At last she let his arms have their will. And it was 
time. The exhaustion which had been driven back for 
the moment by food and excitement returned upon her 
with paralysing force. Helbeck woke to a new and 
stronger alarm. He half led, hah* carried her through the 
hall, on the way to Augustina. 

At the foot of the stairs, as Laura was making a 
tottering effort to climb them with Helbeck's arm round 
her, Mrs. Denton came out of the dining-room straight 
upon them. She carried a pan and brush, and had 
evidently just begun her morning work. 

At sight of her Laura started ; but Helbeck gave her 


no chance to withdraw herself. He turned quietly to his 
housekeeper, who stood transfixed. 

' Good morning, Denton. Miss Fountain has just 
returned, having walked most of the way from Braeside. 
She is very tired, as you see let some breakfast be got 
ready for her at once. And let me tell you now what I 
should any way have told you a few hours later that Miss 
Fountain has promised to be my wife.' 

He spoke with a cold dignity, scanning the woman 
closely. Mrs. Denton grew very white. But she dropped 
a curtsey in old Westmoreland fashion. 

' I wish you joy, sir and Miss Fountain too.' 

Her voice was low and mumbling, but Helbeck gave 
her a cheerful nod. 

' Thank you. I shall be downstairs again as soon as I 
have taken Miss Fountain to my sister and I, too, should 
be glad of some breakfast.' 

' He's been agate all night,' said the housekeeper to 
herself, as she entered the study and looked at the chairs, 
the lamp which its master had forgotten to extinguish, 
the open window. ' An where's she been ? Who 
knows ? I saw it from the first. It's a bewitchment 
an it'll coom to noa good.' 

She went about her dusting with a shaking hand. 

Augustina was not told till later in the day. When 
her brother, who was alone with her, had at last suc- 
ceeded in making her understand that he proposed to 
make Laura Fountain his wife, the surprise and shock of 
the news was such that Mrs. Fountain was only saved 
from faintness by her very strongest smelling-salts. 

' Alan my dear brother ! Oh ! Alan you can't have 
thought it out. She's her father's child, Alan, all through. 
How can you be happy ? Why, Alan, the things she 
says poor Laura ! ' 


1 She has said them,' he replied. 

1 She can't help saying them thinking them it's 
in her. No one will ever change her. Oh ! it's all so 
strange ' 

And Augustina began to cry, silently, piteously. 

Helbeck bent over her. 

1 Augustina ! ' He spoke with emotion. ' If she loved, 
wouldn't that change her ? Don't all women live by their 
affections ? I am not worth her loving but ' 

His face shone, and spoke the rest for him. 

Augustina looked at him in bewilderment. Why, it 
was only yesterday that Laura disliked and despised him, 
and that Alan hardly ever spoke when her stepdaughter 
was there. It was utterly incomprehensible to her. 
Was it another punishment from Heaven for her own 
wilful and sacrilegious marriage ? As she thought of the 
new conditions and relations that were coming upon them 
all the disapproval of friends, the danger to her brother's 
Catholic life, the transformation of her own ties to Laura, 
her feeble soul lost itself in fear. Secretly, she said to 
herself, with the natural weariness of coming age : 

'Perhaps I shall die before it happens.' 



AUGUSTINA was sitting in the garden with Father Bowles. 
Their chairs were placed under a tall Scotch fir, which 
spread its umbrella top between them and the sun. All 
around, the old garden was still full and flowery. For it 
was mid- September, and fine weather. 

Mrs. Fountain was lying on a sort of deck-chair, and 
had as usual a number of little invalid appliances about 
her. But in truth, as Father Bowles was just reflect- 
ing, she looked remarkably well. The influences of her 
native air seemed so far to have brought Dr. MacBride's 
warnings to naught. Or was it the stimulating effect of 
her brother's engagement ? At any rate she talked more, 
and with more vigour ; she was more liable to opinions 
of her own ; and in these days there was that going on at 
Bannisdale which provoked opinion in great plenty. 

' Miss Fountain is not at home ? ' remarked the old 
priest. An afternoon gossip with Mrs. Fountain had 
become a very common feature of his recent life. 

' Laura has gone, I believe, to meet my brother at the 
lodge. He has been over to Braeside on business.' 

' He is selling some land there ? ' 
I hope so ! ' said Augustina, with fervour. 

' It is time indeed that our poor orphans were housed,' 


said Father Bowles naively. ' For the last three 
months some of our dear nuns have been sleeping in 
the passages.' 

Augustina sighed. 

' It seems a little hard that there is nobody but Alan 
to do anything ! And how long is it to go on ? ' 

The priest bent forward. 

' You mean ? ' 

' How long will my stepdaughter let it go on ? ' said 
Augustina impatiently. ' She will be mistress here 

The eyes of her companion flinched, as though some- 
thing had struck him. But he hastened to say : 

'Do not let us doubt, my dear lady, that the soul of Miss 
Fountain will sooner or later be granted to our prayers.' 

1 But there is not the smallest sign of it,' cried Augus- 
tina. And she in her turn bent towards her companion, 
unable to resist the temptation of these priestly ears so 
patiently inclined to her. 'And yet, Father, she isn't 
happy ! though Alan gives way to her in everything. It's 
not a bit like a girl in love you'd expect her to be think- 
ing about her clothes, and the man, and her house- 
keeping at least if she won't think about well ! those 
other things that we should all wish her to think about. 
While we were at the sea, and Alan used to come down 
every now and then to stay near us in lodgings, it was all 
right. They never argued or disputed ; they were out all 
day ; and really I thought my brother began to look ten 
years younger. But now since we have come back of 
course my brother has all his affairs, and all his Church 
business to look after, and Laura doesn't seem so con- 
tented nearly. It would be different if she cared for any 
of his interests but I often think she hates the orphans ! 
She is really naughty about them. And then the Sisters 
oh dear ! ' Augustina gave a worried sigh ' I don't 


think the Eeverend Mother can have managed it at all 

Father Bowles said that he understood both from 
the Eeverend Mother and Sister Angela that they had 
made very great efforts to secure Miss Fountain's friendly 

' Well, it didn't succeed, that's all I can say,' replied 
Augustina fretfully. ' And I don't know what they'll do 
after November.' 

November had been fixed for the marriage, which was 
to take place at Cambridge. 

Father Bowles hung his hands between his knees and 
looked down upon them in gentle meditation. 

' Your brother seems still very much attached ' 

' Attached ! ' 

Augustina was silent. In reality she spent half her 
days in secretly marvelling how such a good man as 
Alan could allow himself to be so much in love. 

' If only some one had ever warned me that this might 
happen when I was coming back to live here,' she said, 
in her most melancholy voice; and clasping her thin 
hands she looked sadly down the garden paths, while 
her poor head shook and jerked under the influence of 
the thoughts so far from agreeable ! with which it 
was filled. 

There was a little silence. Then Father Bowles 
broke it. 

1 And our dear Squire does nothing to try and change 
Miss Fountain's mind towards the Church ? ' he asked, 
looking vaguely round the corner ah 1 the time. 

Nothing so Augustina declared. 

' I say to him " Alan, give her some books." Why, 
they always give people books to read ! "Or get Father 
Leadham to talk to her." What's the good of a man 
like Father Leadham so learned, and such manners ! 


if he can't talk to a girl like Laura ? But no, Alan won't. 
He says we must let her alone and wait God's time ! 
And there's no altering him, as you know.' 

Father Bowles pondered a little, then said with a mild 
perplexity : 

' I find, in my books, that a great many instances are 
recorded of holy wives or even betrothed who were 
instrumental under .God in procuring the conversion of 
their unbelieving husbands or or lovers, if I may use 
such a word to a lady. But I cannot discover any of an 
opposite nature. There was the pious Nonna, for instance, 
the mother of the great St. Gregory Nazianzen, who 
converted her husband so effectually that he became a 
bishop, and died at the age of ninety.' 

' What became of her ? ' inquired Augustina hastily. 

The priest hesitated. 

' It is a very curious case and, I understand, much 
disputed. Some people suppose that St. Gregory was 
born after his father became a bishop, and many infidel 
writers have made use of the story for their own 
malicious purposes. But if it was so, the Church may 
have allowed such a departure from her law, at a time 
of great emergency and in a scarcity of pastors. But 
the most probable thing is that nothing of the kind 
happened ' he drew himself up with decision ' that the 
father of St. Gregory had separated from his wife before 
he became a bishop and that those writers who record 
the birth of St. Gregory during the episcopate of his father 
were altogether mistaken.' 

' At any rate, I really don't see how it helps us ! ' 
said Augustina. 

Father Bowles looked a little crestfallen. 

' There is one other case that occurs to me,' he said 
timidly. ' It is that of St. Amator, Bishop of Auxerre. 
He was desired by his parents to marry Martha, a rich 


young lady of his neighbourhood. But he took her aside, 
and pressed upon her the claims of the ascetic life with 
such fervour that she instantly consented to renounce 
the world with him. She therefore went into a convent ; 
and he received the tonsure, and was in due time made 
Bishop of Auxerre.' 

' Well, I assure you, I should be satisfied with a good 
deal less than that in Laura's case ! ' said Augustina, half 
angry, half laughing. 

Father Bowles said no more. His mind was a 
curious medley of scraps from many quarters from a 
small shelf of books that held a humble place in his little 
parlour, from the newspapers, and from the few recollec- 
tions still left to him of his seminary training. He was one 
of the most complacently ignorant of men; and it had 
ceased to trouble him that even with Augustina he was 
no longer of importance. 

Mrs. Fountain made him welcome, indeed, not only 
because he was one of the chief gossips of the neighbour- 
hood, but because she was able to assume towards him 
certain little airs of superiority that no other human being 
allowed her. With him, she was the widow of a Cam- 
bridge scholar, who had herself breathed the forbidden 
atmosphere of an English University ; she prattled 
familiarly of things and persons wherewith the poor 
priest, in his provincial poverty and isolation, could have 
no acquaintance ; she let him understand that by her 
marriage she had passed into hell-flame regions of pure 
intellect, that little parish priests might denounce but 
could never appreciate. He bore it all very meekly ; he 
liked her tea and talk ; and at bottom the sacerdotal 
pride, however hidden and silent, is more than a match 
for any other. 

Augustina lay for a while in a frowning and flushed 
silence, with a host of thoughts, of the most disagreeable 



and heterogeneous sort, scampering through her mind. 
Suddenly she said : 

' I don't think Sister Angela should talk as she does ! 
She told me when she heard of the engagement that she 
could not help thinking of St. Philip Neri, who was 
attacked by three devils near the Colosseum, because 
they were enraged by the success of his holy work among 
the young men of Eome. I asked her whether she 
meant to call Laura a devil ! And she coloured, and got 
very confused, and said it was so sad that Mr. Helbeck, 
of all people, should marry an unbelieving wife and we 
were taught to believe that all temptations came from evil 

' Sister Angela means well, but she expresses herself 
very unwarrantably,' said the priest sharply. 'Now the 
Reverend Mother tells me that she expected something of 
the kind, almost from the first.' 

'Why didn't she tell me?' cried Augustina. 'But 
I don't really think she did, Father. She makes a 
mistake. How could she? But the dear Eeverend 
Mother well ! you know though she is so wonderfully 
humble, she doesn't like anybody to be wiser than she. 
And I can hardly bear it I know she puts it all down 
to some secret sin on Alan's part. She spends a great 
part of the night that she told me in praying for him 
in the chapel.' 

Father Bowles sighed. 

' I believe that our dear Eeverend Mother has often 
and often prayed for a good wife for Mr. Helbeck. Miss 
Fountain, no doubt, is a very attractive and accomplished 
young lady, but ' 

1 Oh, don't, please, go through the " buts," ' said Mrs. 
Fountain with a shrug of despair. ' I don't know what's 
to become of us all I don't, indeed. It isn't as though 
Laura could hold her tongue. Since we came back I can 


see her father in her all day long. I had a talk with the 
Bishop yesterday,' she said in a lower voice, looking 
plaintively at her companion. 

He bent forward. 

' Oh ! he's just broken-hearted. He can hardly bring 
himself to speak to Alan about it at all. Of course, Alan 
will get his dispensation for the marriage. They can't 
refuse it to him when they give it to so many others. 
But ! ' she threw up her hands ' the Bishop asked me 
if Laura had been really baptised. I told him there was 
no doubt at all about it though it was a very near thing. 
But her mother did insist that once. And it appears 
that if she hadn't ' 

She looked interrogatively at the priest. 

' The marriage could not have taken place," he said 
slowly. ' No Catholic priest could have celebrated it, 
at least. There would have been a diriment impedi- 

1 1 thought so,' said Augustina, excitedly, ' though I 
wasn't sure. There are so many dispensations now- 

' Ah, but not in such cases as that,' said the priest, 
with an unconscious sigh that rather startled his 

Then with a sudden movement he pounced upon 
something on the further side of the table, nearly upset- 
ting the tea-tray. Augustina exclaimed. 

1 1 beg your pardon,' he said humbly ; ' it was only a 
nasty fly.' And he dropped the flattened creature on the 

Both relapsed into a melancholy silence. But several 
times during the course of it Mrs. Fountain looked towaras 
her companion as though on the point of saying some- 
thing then rebuked herself and refrained. 

But when the priest had taken his leave, and Mrs. 


Fountain was left alone in the garden with the flowers 
and the autumn wind, her thoughts were painfully con- 
cerned with quite another part of the episcopal conversa- 
tion from that which she had reported to Father Bowles. 
What right had the Bishop or any one else to speak of 
' stories ' about Laura ? Of course, the dear Bishop had 
been very kind and cautious. He had said emphatically 
that he did not believe the stories nor that other report 
that Mr. Helbeck's sudden proposal of marriage to Miss 
Fountain had been brought about by his chivalrous wish 
to protect the endangered name of a young girl, his guest, 
to whom he had become unwisely attached. 

But why should there be ' stories," and what did it 
all mean ? 

That unlucky Froswick business and young Mason ? 
But what had Mason to do with it on that occasion ? 
As Augustina understood, he had seen the child off from 
Froswick by the 8.20 train and there was an end of him 
in the matter. As for the rest of that adventure, no doubt 
it was foolish of Laura to sit in the quarry till daylight, 
instead of going to the inn ; but all the world might know 
that she took a carriage at Wryneck, halfway home, 
about four o'clock in the morning, and left it at the top 
gate of the park. Why, she was in her room by six, or a 
little after ! 

What on earth did the Bishop mean? Augustina 
fell into a maze of rather miserable cogitation. She 
recalled her brother's manner and words after his return 
from the station on the night of the expedition and then 
next day, the news ! and Laura's abrupt admission : ' I 
met him in the garden, Augustina, and well ! we soon 
understood each other. It had to come, I suppose it 
might as well come then. But I don't wonder it's all 

very surprising to you ' And then such a wild burst of 

tears such a sudden gathering of the stepmother in the 


girl's young arms such a wrestle with feelings to which 
the bewildered Augustina had no clue. 

Was Alan up all that night? Mrs. Denton had 
said something of the sort. Was he really making up 
his mind to propose because people might talk? But 
why ? how ridiculous 1 Certainly it must have been very 
sudden. Mrs. Denton met them coming upstairs a little 
after six ; and Alan told her then. 

' Oh, if I only could understand it,' thought Augustina 
with a little moan. ' And now Alan just lives and 
breathes for her. And she will be here, in my mother's 
place Stephen's daughter.' 

Mrs. Fountain felt the burning of a strange jealousy. 
Her vanity and her heart were alike sore. She remem- 
bered how she had trembled before Alan in his strict 
youth how she had apostatised even, merely to escape 
the demands which the intensity of Alan's faith made on all 
about him. And now this little chit of twenty, her own 
stepdaughter, might do and say what she pleased. She 
would be mistress of Alan, and of the old house. Alan's 
sister might creep into a corner, and pray! that was 
enough for her. 

And yet she loved Laura, and clung to her ! She felt 
the humiliation of her secret troubles and envies. Her 
only comfort lay in her recovered faith ; in the rosary to 
which her hands turned perpetually ; in her fortnightly 
confession ; in her visits to the sacrament. The great 
Catholic tradition beat through her meagre life, as the 
whole Atlantic may run pulsing through a drifting weed. 

Meanwhile, near the entrance gate of the park, on a 
wooded knoll that overlooked the park wall and com- 
manded the road beyond, Laura Fountain was sitting 
with the dogs waiting for Helbeck. 

He had been at Whinthorpe all day, on some business 


in which she was specially interested. The Komney 
lady was not yet sold. During May and June, Laura had 
often wondered why she still lingered on the wall. An 
offer had actually been made so Augustina said. And 
there was pressing need for the money that it represented 
that, every sojourner in Bannisdale must know. And 
yet, there still she hung. 

Then, with the first day of her engagement, Laura 
knew why. ' You saved her,' said Helbeck. ' Since that 
evening when you denounced me for selling her little 
termagant ! I have racked my brains to keep her.' 

And now for some time there had been negotiations 
going on between Helbeck and a land-agent in Whin- 
thorpe for the sale of an outlying piece of Bannisdale 
land, to which the growth of a little watering-place on 
the estuary had given of late a new value. Helbeck, 
in general a singularly absent and ineffective man of 
business, had thrown himself into the matter with an 
astonishing energy, had pressed his price, hurried his 
solicitors, and begged the patience of the nuns who 
were still sleeping in doorways and praying for new 
buildings till all should be complete. 

That afternoon he had ridden over to Whinthorpe in 
the hopes of signing the contract. He did not yet 
know so Laura gathered with whom he was really 
treating. The Whinthorpe agent had talked vaguely of 
' a Manchester gentleman,' and Helbeck had not troubled 
himself to inquire further. 

When they were married, would he still sell all that 
he had, and give v to the poor in the shape of orphan- 
ages and reformatories ? Laura was almost as un- 
practical, and cared quite as little about money, as he. 
But her heart yearned towards the old house ; and she 
already dreamt of making it beautiful and habitable again. 
As a woman, too, she was more alive to the habitual 


discomforts of the household than Helbeck himself. 
Mrs. Denton at least should go ! So much he had 
already promised her. The girl thought with joy of 
that dismissal, tightening her small lips. Oh! the 
tyranny of those perpetual grumblings and parsimonies, 
of those sour unfriendly looks ! Economy yes ! But 
it should be a seemly, a smiling economy in future one 
still compatible with a little elegance, a little dignity. 

Laura liked to think of her own three hundred a 
year; liked to feel it of importance in the narrow 
lot of this impoverished estate. To a rich bridegroom 
it would have been a trifle for contempt. To Helbeck 
and herself though she scarcely believed that he 
had realised as yet that she possessed a farthing ! it 
would mean just escape from penury ; a few more firea 
and servants and travellings ; enough to ease his life 
from that hard strain that had tugged at it so long. For 
her money should not go to nuns or Jesuits ! she would 
protect it zealously, and not for her own sake. 

. . . Oh ! those days by the sea ! Those were days 
for remembering. That tall form always beside her 
those eyes so grey and kind so fiery-kind, often ! 
revealing to her day by day more of the man, learning 
anew language for her alone, in all the world, a language 
that could set her trembling, that could draw her to him, 
in a humility that was strange and difficult, yet pure joy ! 
her hand slipping into his, her look sinking beneath his, 
almost with an appeal to love to let her be. Then 
nothing but the sparkling sands and the white-edged 
waves for company ! A little pleasant chat with 
Augustina ; duty- walks with her bath-chair along the sea- 
wall ; strolls in the summer dusk, while Mrs. Fountain, 
wrapped in her many shawls, watched them from the 
balcony: their day had known no other events, no other 
disturbance than these. 


As far as things external were concerned. Else, each 
word, each look made history. And though he had not 
talked much to her of his religion, his Catholic friends 
and schemes, ail that he had said on these things she had 
been ready to take into a softened heart. His mystic's 
practice and belief wore still their grand air for her that 
aspect of power and mystery which had in fact borne so 
large a part in the winning of her imagination, the sub- 
duing of her will. She did not want then to know too 
much. She wished the mystery still kept up. And 
he, on his side, had made it plain to her that he would 
not attempt to disturb her inherited ideas so long 
as she herself did not ask for the teaching and initiation 
that could only, according to his own deepest conviction, 
bear fruit in the willing and prepared mind. 

But now They were at Bannisdale again, and he 
was once more Helbeck of Bannisdale, a man sixteen 
years older than she, wound round with the habits and 
friendship and ideals which had been the slow and firm 
deposit of those years habits and ideals which were not 
hers, which were at the opposite pole from hers, of which 
she still only dimly guessed the motives and foundations. 

'Helbeck of Bannisdale.' Her new relation to him, 
brought back into the old conditions, revealed to her 
day by day fresh meanings and connotations of the name. 
And the old revolts, under different, perhaps more 
poignant forms, were already strong. 

What time this religion took ! Apart from the daily 
Mass which drew him always to Whinthorpe before 
breakfast, there were the morning and evening prayers, 
the visits to the Sacrament, the two Masses on Sunday 
morning, Eosary and Benediction in the evening, and the 
many occasional services for the marking of Saints' -days 
or other festivals. Not to speak of all the business that fell 
upon him as the chief Catholic layman of a large district. 


And it seemed to her that since their return home he 
was more strict, more rigorous than ever in points of 
observance. She noticed that not only was Friday a 
fast-day, but Wednesday also was an ' abstinence ' day ; 
that he looked with disquiet upon the books and magazines 
that were often sent her by the Friedlands, and would 
sometimes gently beg her for the Sisters' sake to put 
them out of sight ; that on the subject of balls and theatres 
he spoke sometimes with a severity no member of the 
Metropolitan Tabernacle could have outdone. What was 
that phrase he had dropped once as to being ' under a 
rule'? What was 'The Third Order of St. Francis'? 
She had seen a book of ' Constitutions ' in his study ; and 
a printed card of devout recommendations to ' Tertiaries 
of the Northern Province' hung beside his table. She 
half thirsted, half dreaded, to know precisely what these 
things meant to him. But he was silent, and she shrank 
from asking. 

Was he all the more rigid with himself on the religious 
side of late, because of that inevitable scandal which his 
engagement had given to his Catholic friends perhaps 
because of his own knowledge of the weakening effects 
of passion on the will ? For Laura's imagination was 
singularly free and cool where the important matters of 
her own life were concerned. She often guessed that but 
for the sudden emotion of that miserable night, and their 
strange meeting in the dawn, he might have succeeded in 
driving down and subduing his love for her might have 
proved himself in that, as in all other matters, a good 
Catholic to the end. That she should have brought him 
to her feet in spite of all trammels was food for a natural 
and secret exultation. But now that the first exquisite 
days of love were over, the trammels, the forgotten 
trammels, were all there again for the fretting of her 
patience. That his mind was often disturbed, his cheer- 


fulness overcast, that his letters gave him frequently more 
pain than pleasure, and that a certain inward unrest made 
his dealings with himself more stern, and his manner to 
those around him less attractive than before these things 
were constantly plain to Laura. As she dwelt upon 
them, they carried flame and poison through the girl's 
secret mind. For they were the evidences of forces and 
influences not hers forces that warred with hers, and 
must always war with hers. Passion on her side began 
to put forward a hundred new and jealous claims ; 
and at the touch of resistance in him, her own will 

As to the Catholic friends, surely she had done her best ! 
She had called with Augustina on the Eeverend Mother 
and Sister Angela a cold, embarrassed visit. She had 
tried to be civil whenever they came to the house. She 
had borne with the dubious congratulations of Father 
Bowles. She had never once asked to see any portion of 
that correspondence which Helbeck had been carrying on 
for weeks with Father Leadham, persuaded though she 
was, from its effects on Helbeck's moods and actions, that 
it was wholly concerned with their engagement, and with 
the problems and difficulties it presented from the Catholic 
point of view. 

She was preparing even to welcome with politeness 
that young Jesuit who had neglected his dying mother, 
against whom on the stories she had heard her whole 
inner nature cried out. . . . 

The sound of a horse approaching. Up sprang the 
dogs, and she with them. 

Helbeck waved his hand to her as he came over the 
bridge. Then at the gate he dismounted, seeing Wilson 
in the drive, and gave his horse to the old bailiff. 
- ' Cross the bridge with me,' he said, as he joined her, 


' and let us walk home the other side of the river. Is it 
too far ? ' 

His eyes searched her face with the eagerness of one 
who has found absence a burden. She shook her head 
and smiled. The little frown that had been marring the 
youth of her pretty brow smoothed itself away. She 
tripped beside him, feeling the contagion of his joy 
inwardly repentant and very happy. 

But he was tired and disappointed by the day's result. 
The contract was not signed. His solicitor had been sum- 
moned in haste to make the will of a neighbouring 
magnate ; some of the last formalities of his own business 
had been left uncompleted ; and in short the matter was 
postponed for at least a day or two. 

'I wish it was done,' he said, sighing and Laura 
could only feel that the responsibilities and anxieties 
weighing upon him seemed to press with unusual 

A rosy evening stole upon them as they walked along 
the Greet. The glow caught the grey walls of the house 
on the further bank lit up the reaches of the stream 
and the bare branch-work of a great ruined tree in 
front of them. Long lines of heavy wood closed the 
horizon on either hand ; shutting in the house, the river, 
and their two figures. 

' How solitary we are here ! ' he said, suddenly looking 
round him. ' Oh ! Laura, can you be happy with poverty 
and me ? ' 

' Well, I sha'n't read my prayer book along the river ! 
and I sha'n't embroider curtains for the best bedroom 
alack ! Perhaps a new piano might keep me quiet I 
don't know ! ' 

He looked at her, then quickly withdrew his eyes, as 
though they offended. Through his mind had run the 
sacred thought, ' Her children will fill her life and mine 1 ' 


' When am I to teach you Latin ? ' he said, laughing. 

She raised her shoulders. 

' I wouldn't learn it if I could do without it ! But you 
Catholics are bred upon it.' 

' We are the children of the Church,' he said gently. 
' And it is her tongue.' 

She made no answer, and he talked of something else 
immediately. As they crossed the little foot-bridge he 
drew her attention to the deep pool on the further side, 
above which was built the wooden platform, where 
Laura had held her May tryst with Mason. 

' Did I ever tell you the story of my great-grandfather 
drowning in that pool ? ' 

' What, the drinking and gambling gentleman ? ' 

' Yes, poor wretch ! He had half-killed his wife, and 
ruined the property so it was time. He was otter- 
hunting there is an otter-hole still, halfway down that 
bank. Somehow or other he came to the top of the crag 
alone, probably not sober. The river was in flood ; and 
his poor wife, sitting on one of those rock seats, with her 
needlework and her books, heard the shouts of the hunts- 
men helped to draw him out, and to carry him home. 
Do you see that little beach ? ' he pointed to a break in 
the rocky bank. ' It was there so tradition says that 
he lay upon her knee, she wailing over him. And in 
three months she too was gone.' 

Laura turned away. 

' I won't think of it,' she said obstinately. ' I will 
only think of her as she is in the picture.' 

On the little platform she paused, with her hand on 
the railing, the dark water eddying below her, the crag 
above her. 

' I could tell you something about this place,' she 
said slowly. ' Do you want to hear ? ' 

She bent over the water. He stood beside her. The 


Solitude of the spot, the deep shadow of the crag, gave 
love freedom. 

He drew her to him. 

' Dear ! confess ! ' 

She too whispered : 

' It was here I saw Hubert Mason that night.' 

' Culprit ! Repeat every word and I will determine 
the penance.' 

' As if there had not been already too much ! Oh ! 
what a lecture you read me and you have never apolo- 
gised yet ! Begin begin at once ! ' 

He raised her hand and kissed it. 

' So ? Now courage ! ' 

And with some difficulty half-laughing she de- 
scribed the scene with Hubert, her rush home, her 
meeting with old Scarsbrook. 

' I tell you,' she insisted at the end, ' there is good in 
that boy somewhere there is ! ' 

Helbeck said nothing. 

' But you always saw the worst,' she added, looking 

'I am afraid I only saw what there was,' he said 
drily. ' Dear, it gets cold, and that white frock is very 

They walked on. In truth, he could hardly bear that 
she should take Mason's name upon her lips at all. The 
thoughts and comments of ill-natured persons, of some 
of his own friends the sort of misgiving that had found 
expression in the Bishop's talk with his sister he was 
perfectly aware of them all, impossible as it would have 
been for Augustina or any one else to say a word to him 
on the subject. The dignity no less than the passion of 
a strong man were deeply concerned. He repented and 
humbled himself every day for his own passing doubts ; 
but his resolution only stiffened the more. There was 


;no room, there should never be any room in Laura's 
future life, for any further contact with the Mason 

And, indeed, the Mason family itself seemed to have 
arrived at very similar conclusions ! All that Helbeck 
knew of them since the Froswick day might have been 
summed up in a few sentences. On the Sunday morning 
Mason, in a wild state, with wet clothes and bloodshot eyes, 
had presented himself at the Wilsons' cottage, asking for 
news of Miss Fountain. They told him that she was 
safely at home, and he departed. As far as Helbeck knew, 
he had spent the rest of the Sunday drinking heavily at 
Marsland. Since then Laura had received one insolent 
letter from him, reiterating his own passion for her, attack- 
ing Helbeck in the fiercest terms, and prophesying that she 
would soon be tired of her lover and her bargain. Laura 
had placed the letter in Helbeck's hands, and Helbeck 
had replied by a curt note through his solicitor, to the 
effect that if any further annoyance were offered to Miss 
Fountain he would know how to protect her. 

Mrs. Mason also had written. Madwoman ! She 
forbade her cousin to visit the farm again, or to hold any 
communication with Polly or herself. A girl, born of a 
decent stock, who was capable of such an act as marry- 
ing a Papist and idolater was not fit to cross the 
threshold of Christian people. Mrs. Mason left her to 
the mercy of her offended God. 

And in this matter of her cousins Laura was not 
unwilling to be governed. It was as though she liked to 
feel the curb. 

And to-night as they strolled homewards, hand locked 
in hand, all her secret reserves and suspicions dropped 
away silenced or soothed. Her charming head drooped 
a little ; her whole small self seemed to shrink towards 


him as though she felt the spell of that mere physical 
maturity and strength that moved beside her youth. 
Their walk was all sweetness ; and both would have 
prolonged it but that Augustina had been left too long 

She was no longer in the garden, however, and they 
went in by the chapel entrance seeking for her. 

' Let me just get my letters,' said Helbeck, and Laura 
followed him to his study. 

The afternoon post lay upon his writing-table. He 
opened the first, read it, and handed it with a look of 
hesitation to Laura. 

' Dear, Mr. Williams comes to-morrow. They have 
given him a fortnight's holiday. He has had a sharp 
attack of illness and depression, and wants change. Will 
you feel it too long ? ' 

Involuntarily her look darkened. She put down the 
letter without reading it. 

' Why I want to see him ! I I shall make a study 
of him,' she said with some constraint. 

But by this time Helbeck was half through the 
contents of his next envelope. She heard an exclama- 
tion of disgust, and he threw down what he held with 

' One can trust nobody ! ' he said ' nobody I ' 

He began to pace the floor with angry energy, his 
hands thrust into his pockets. She in astonishment 
threw him questions which he hardly seemed to hear. 
Suddenly he paused. 

1 Dear Laura ! will you forgive me ? but after all I 
must sell that picture ! ' 

' Why ? ' 

' I hear to-day, for the first time, who is to be the real 
purchaser of that land, and why it is wanted. It is to be 
the site of a new Anglican church and vicarage. I have 



been tricked throughout tricked and deceived ! But 
thank God it is not too late ! The circumstances of this 
afternoon were providential. There is still time for me 
to write to Whinthorpe.' He glanced at the clock. 
' And my lawyers may tear up the contract when they 
please ! ' 

' And that means you will sell the Eomney ? ' said 
Laura slowly. 

' I must ! Dear little one ! ' he came to stoop over 
her ' I am most truly grieved. But I am bound to my 
orphans by all possible engagements both of honour 
and conscience.' 

' Why is it so horrible that an Anglican church should 
be built on your land?' she said, slightly holding him 
away from her. 

' Because I am responsible for the use of my land, as 
for any other talent. It shall not be used for the spread 
of heresy.' 

' Are there any Catholics near it ? ' 

' Not that I know of. But it has been a fixed prin- 
ciple with me throughout my life ' he spoke with a firm 
and, as she thought, a haughty decision ' to give no help, 
direct or indirect, to a schismatical and rebellious church. 
I see now why there has been so much secrecy ! My 
land is of vital importance to them. They apparently 
feel that the whole Anglican development of this new 
town may depend upon it. Let them feel it. They shall 
not have a foot not an inch of what belongs to me ! ' 

' Then they are to have no church,' said Laura. She 
had grown quite pale. 

' Not on my land,' he said, with a violence that first 
amazed and then offended her. ' Let them find sym- 
pathisers of their own. They have filched enough from 
us Catholics in the past.' 

And he resumed his rapid walk, his face darkened with 


an anger he vainly tried to curb. Never had she seen him 
so roused. 

She too rose, trembling a little. 

' But I love that picture ! ' she said. ' I beg you not to 
sell it.' 

He stopped, in distress. 

' Unfortunately, dear, I have promised the money. It 
must be found within six weeks and I see no other 

She thought that he spoke stiffly, and she resented the 
small effect of her appeal. 

I And you won't bend a single prejudice to to save 
such a family possession though I care for it so much ? ' 

He came up to her with outstretched hands. 

I 1 have been trying to save it all these weeks I No- 
thing but such a cause as this could have stood in the way. 
It is not a prejudice, darling believe me ! it belongs, for 
me at any rate, to Catholic obligation.' 

She took no notice of the hands. With her own she 
clung to the table behind her. 

' Why do you give so much to the Sisters ? It is not 
right ! They give a very bad education ! ' 

He stared at her. How pale she had grown and 
this half-stifled voice ! 

' I think we must be the judges of that,' he said, 
dropping his hands. ' We teach what we hold most 

' Nobody like Sister Angela ought to teach ! ' she 
cried ' you give money to bring pupils to Sister Angela. 
And she is not well trained. I never heard anyone talk 
so ignorantly as she does to Augustina. And the children 
learn nothing, of course every one says so.' 

'And you are so eager to listen to them?' he said 
with sparkling eyes. Then he controlled himself. 

'But that is not the point I humbly admit our 



teaching is not nearly so good as it might be if we had 
larger funds to spend upon it. But the point is that I 
have promised the money, and that a number of arrange- 
ments fresh teachers among them are already depen- 
dent on it. Dearest, won't you recognise my difficulties, 
and and help me through them ? ' 

'You make them yourself,' she said, drawing back. 
' There would be none if you did not hate your, fellow- 

'I hate no one but I cannot aid and abet the 
English Church. That is impossible to me. Laura ! ' 
He observed her carefully. ' I don't understand. Why 
do you say these things? why does it hurt you so 

' Oh ! let me go,' she cried, flinging his hand away 
from her. ' Let me go ! ' 

And before he could stop her, she had fled to the 
door, and disappeared. 

Helbeck and Augustina ate a lonely dinner. 

' You must have taken Laura too far this afternoon, 
Alan,' said Mrs. Fountain fretfully. ' She says she is 
too tired to come down again to-night so very unlike 

' She did not complain but it may have been a long 
round,' said her companion. 

After dinner, Helbeck took his pipe into the garden, 
and walked for long up and down the bowling-green, 
torn with solitary thought. He had put up his pipe, and 
was beginning drearily to feel the necessity of going 
back to his study, and applying himself if he could 
force his will so far to some official business that lay 
waiting for him there, when a light noise on the gravel 
caught his ear. 


His heart leapt. 

' Laura ! ' 

She stopped a white wraith in the light mist that 
filled the garden. He went up to her, overwhelmed 
with the joy of her coming accusing himself of a hun- 
dred faults. 

She was too miserable to resist him. The storm of 
feeling through which she had passed had exhausted 
her wholly ; and the pining for his step and voice had 
become an anguish driving her to him. 

' I told you to make me afraid ! ' she said mournfully, 
as she found herself once more upon his breast ' but you 
can't ! There is something in me that fears nothing not 
even the breaking of both our hearts.' 



A WEEK later the Jesuit scholastic Edward Williams 
arrived at Bannisdale. 

In Laura his coming roused a curiosity half angry, 
half feminine, by which Helbeck was alternately harassed 
and amused. She never tired of asking questions about 
the Jesuits their training, their rules, their occupations. 
She could not remember that she had ever seen one till 
she made acquaintance with Father Leadham. They 
were alternately a mystery, and a repulsion to her. 

Helbeck smilingly told her that she was no worse 
than the mass of English people. ' They have set up 
their bogey and they like it.' She would be surprised to 
find how simple was the Jesuit secret. 

' What is it ? in two words ? ' she asked him. 

1 Obedience training. So little ! ' he laughed at her, 
and took her hand tenderly. 

She inquired if Mr. Williams were yet ' a full Jesuit.' 

' Oh dear no ! He has taken his first vows. Now 
he has three years' philosophy, then four years' theology. 
After that they will make him teach somewhere. Then 
he will take orders go through a third year's noviceship 
get a doctor's degree, if he can and after that, perhaps, 
he will be a professed " Father." It isn't done just by 
wishing for it, you see.' 

The spirit of opposition reared its head. She coloured, 
laughed and half without intending it repeated some of 


the caustic things she had heard occasionally from her 
father or his friends as to the learning of Jesuits. 
Helbeck, under his lover's sweetness, showed a certain 
restlessness. He hardly let himself think the thought 
that Stephen Fountain had been quoted to him very often 
of late ; but it was there. 

' I am no judge,' he said at last. ' I am not learned. 
I dare say you will find Williams ignorant enough. But 
he was a clever boy besides his art.' 

' And they have made him give up his art ? ' 

' For a time yes perhaps altogether. Of course it 
has been his great renunciation. His superiors thought 
it necessary to cut him off from it entirely. And no doubt 
during the novitiate he suffered a great deal. It has been 
like any other starved faculty.' 

The girl's instincts rose in revolt. She cried out 
against such waste, such mutilation. The Catholic tried 
to appease her ; but in another language. He bade her 
remember the Jesuit motto. ' A Jesuit is like any other 
soldier he puts himself under orders for a purpose.' 

'And God is to be glorified by the crushing out of 
all He took the trouble to give you ! ' 

' You must take the means to the end,' said Helbeck 
steadily. ' The Jesuit must yield his will otherwise 
the Society need not exist. In "Williams's case, so long 
as he had a fascinating and absorbing pursuit, how could 
he give himself up to his superiors ? Besides ' his grave 
face stiffened ' in his case there were peculiar difficulties. 
His art had become a temptation. He wished to protect 
himself from it.' 

Laura's curiosity was roused ; but Helbeck gently put 
her questions aside, and at last she said in a flash of 
something like passion that she wondered which the 
young man had felt most the trampling on his art, or the 
forsaking his mother. 


Helbeck looked at her with sudden animation. 

' I knew you had heard that story. Dear he did not 
forsake his mother ! He meant to go the Fathers had 
given him leave. But there was a mistake, a miscalcula- 
tion and he arrived too late.' 

Laura's beautiful eyes threw lightnings. 

' A miscalculation \ ' she cried scornfully, her quick 
breath beating ' That puts it in a nutshell.' 

Helbeck looked at her sadly. 

' So you are going to be very unkind to him ? ' 

1 No. I shall watch him.' 

' Look into him rather ! Try and make out his 
spring. I will help you.' 

She protested that there was nothing she less desired. 
She had bsen reading some Jesuit biographies from 
Augustina's room, and they had made her feel that the 
only thing to be done with such people was to keep them 
at a distance. 

Helbeck sighed and gave up the conversation. Then 
in a moment, compunctions and softenings began to 
creep over the girl's face. A small hand made its way to 

' There is Wilson in the garden shall we go and talk 
to him ? ' 

They were in Helbeck's study where Augustina had 
left them alone for a little after luncheon. 

Helbeck put down his pipe with alacrity. Laura ran 
for her hat and cape, and they went out together. 

A number of small improvements both inside and out- 
side the house had been recently inaugurated to please 
the coming bride. Already Helbeck realised and not 
without a secret chafing the restraints that would soon 
be laid upon the almsgiving of Bannisdale. A man who 
marries, who may have children, can no longer deal with 
his money as he pleases. Meanwhile he found his reward 


in Laura's half-reluctant pleasure. She was at once full 
of eagerness and full of a proud shyness. No bride less 
grasping or more sensitive could have been imagined. 
She loved the old house and would fain repair its hurts. 
But her wild nature, at the moment, asked, in this at 
least, to be commanded, not to command. To be the 
managing wife of an obedient husband was the last 
thing that her imagination coveted. So that when any 
change in the garden, any repair in the house, was in 
progress, she would hover round Helbeck, half cold, half 
eager, now only showing a fraction of her mind, and 
now flashing out into a word or look that for Helbeck 
turned the whole business into pure joy. Day by day ? 
indeed, amid all jars and misgivings, the once solitary 
master of Bannisdale was becoming better acquainted 
with that mere pleasantness of a woman's company which 
is not passion, but its best friend. In the case of those 
women whom nature marks for love, it is a company full 
of incident, full of surprise. Certainly Helbeck found 
it so. 

A week or more had now passed since the quarrel over 
the picture. Not a word upon the subject had passed 
between them since. As for Laura, she took pains not to 
look at the picture to forget its existence. It was as 
though she felt some hidden link between herself and it 
as though some superstitious feeling attached to it hi 
her mind. 

Meanwhile a number of new understandings were 
developing in Helbeck. His own nature was simple 
and concentrated, with little introspective power of the 
modern kind even through all the passions and subtle- 
ties of his religion. Nevertheless his lover's sense re- 
vealed to him a good deal of what was going on in 
the semi-darkness of Laura's feelings and ideas. He 
divined this jealousy of his religious life that had taken 


possession of her since their return from the sea. He 
felt by sympathy that obscure pain of separation that 
tormented her. What was he to do? what could 
he do? 

The change astonished him, for while they were at the 
sea, it seemed to him that she had accepted the situation 
with a remarkable resolution. But it also set him on 
new trains of thought ; it roused in him a secret excite- 
ment, a vague hope. If her earlier mood had persisted ; 
if amid the joys of their love she had continued to put 
the whole religious matter away from her, as many a girl 
with her training might and would have done then 
indeed he must have resigned himself to a life-long 
difference and silence between them on these vital 

But, since she suffered since she felt the need of that 
more intimate, more exquisite link ? Since she could not 
let it alone, but must needs wound herself and him ? 

Instinctively he felt the weakness of her intellectual 
defence. Once or twice he let himself imagine the cap- 
ture of her little struggling soul, the break down of her 
childish resistance, and felt the flooding of a joy, at once 
mystical and very human. 

But that natural chivalry and deep self-distrust he 
had once expressed to Father Leadham kept him in 
check; made him very slow and scrupulous. Towards 
his Catholic friends indeed he stood all along in defence 
of Laura, an attitude which only made him more sen- 
sitive and more vulnerable in other directions. 

Meanwhile his own struggles and discomforts were 
not few. No strong man of Helbeck's type endures so 
complete an overthrow at the hands of impulse and cir- 
cumstance as he had done, without going afterwards 
through a period of painful readjustment. The new 
image of himself that he saw reflected in the astonished 


eyes of his Catholic companions worked in him a number 
of fresh forms of self-torment. His loyalty to Laura, 
indeed, and to his own passion was complete. Secretly, 
he had come to believe, with all the obstinate ardour 
of the religious mind, that the train of events which 
had first brought Laura into his life, and had then over- 
come his own resistance to her spell, represented, not 
temptation, but a Divine volition concerning him. No 
one so impoverished and forlorn as she in the matters of 
the soul ! But not of her own doing. Was she respon- 
sible for her father ? In the mere fact that she had so 
incredibly come to love him he being what he was 
there was surely a significance which the Catholic was 
free to interpret in the Catholic sense. So that, where 
others saw defection from a high ideal and danger to 
his own Catholic position, he, with hidden passion, and 
very few words of explanation even to his director, 
Father Leadham, felt the drawing of a heavenly force, 
the promise of an ultimate and joyful issue. 

At the same time, the sadness of his Catholic friends 
should find no other pretext. Upon his fidelity now and 
here, not only his own eternal fate, but Laura's, might 
depend. Devotion to the crucified Lord and His Mother, 
obedience to His Church, imitation of His saints, charity 
to His poor these are the means by which the Catholic 
draws down the grace, the condescension that he seeks. 
He felt his own life offered for hers. So that the more he 
loved her, the more set, the more rigid became all the 
habits and purposes of religion. Again and again he was 
tempted to soften them to spend time with her that he 
had been accustomed to give to Catholic practice to 
slacken or modify the harshness of that life of self- 
renouncement, solitude, unpopularity to which he had 
vowed himself for years to conceal from her the more 
startling and difficult of his convictions. But he crushed 


the temptation, guided, inflamed by that profound idea of 
a substituted life and a vicarious obedien 
been among the root forces of Christianity. 

One evening, as she was dressing for the very simple 
meal that only Mrs. Denton dignified by the name of 
' dinner,' Laura reminded herself that Mr. Williams must 
have arrived, and that she would probably find him in the 
hall on her descent. 

It happened to be the moment for donning a new dress, 
which she had ordered from a local artist. She had no 
mind to exhibit it to the Jesuit. On the other hand the 
temptation to show it to Helbeck was irresistible. She 
put it on. 

When she entered the hall, her feelings of dislike to 
Mr. Williams, and her pride in her new dress, had both 
combined to give her colour and radiance. Helbeck saw 
her come in with a start of pleasure. Augustina fidgeted 
uncomfortably. She thought that Laura might have 
dressed in something more quiet and retiring to meet a 
guest who was a religious, almost a priest. 

Helbeck introduced the newcomer. Laura's quick 
eyes travelled over the young man who bowed to her with 
a cold awkwardness. She turned aside and seated her- 
self in a corner of the settle, whither Helbeck came to 
bend over her. 

' What have you been doing to yourself ? ' he asked 
her in a low voice. At the moment of her entrance she 
had thought him pale and fatigued. He had been half 
over the country that day on Catholic business. But now 
his deep-set eyes shone again. He had thrown off the 

' Experimenting with a Whinthorpe dressmaker,' she 
said ; ' do you approve ? ' 

Her smile, her brilliance in her pretty dress, intoxicated 


him. He murmured some lover's words under his breath. 
She flushed a little deeper, then exerted herself to keep him 
by her. Till supper was announced they had not a word 
or look for anyone but each other. The young ' scholas- 
tic ' talked ceremoniously to Augustina. 

' Who talks of Jesuit tyranny now ? ' said Helbeck 
laughing, as he and Laura led the way to the dining-room. 
'If it is not too much for him, Williams has leave to 
finish some of his work in the chapel while he is here. 
But he looks very ill don't you think so ? ' 

She understood the implied appeal to her sympathy. 

' He is extraordinarily handsome,' she said, with 

At table, however, she came to terms more exactly with 
her impression. The face of the young Jesuit was indeed, 
in some ways, singularly handsome. The round, dark eyes, 
the features delicate without weakness, the high brow 
narrowed by the thick and curly hair that overhung it, 
the small chin and curving mouth, kept still something of 
the look and the bloom of the child a look that was 
only intensified by the strange force of expression that 
was added to the face whenever the lids so constantly 
dropped over the eyes were raised. For one saw in it 
a mingling at once of sharp observation and of distrust; it 
seemed to spring from some fiery source of personality, 
which at the very moment it revealed itself, yet warned 
the spectator back, and stood, half proudly, half sullenly, 
on the defensive. Such a look one may often see in the 
eyes of a poetic and morbid child. 

But the whole aspect was neither delicate nor poetic. 
For the beauty of the head was curiously and unexpectedly 
contradicted by the clumsiness of the frame below it. 
' Brother ' Williams might have the head of a poet ; he 
had the form and movements, the large feet and shambling 
gait of the peasant. And Laura, scanning him with 


some closeness, noticed with distaste a good many signs 
of personal slovenliness and ill-breeding. His hands 
were not as clean as they might have been ; his clerical 
coat badly wanted a brushing. 

His talk to Augustina could hardly have been more 
formal. In speaking to ladies he seldom raised his eyes ; 
and as far as she herself was concerned Laura was certain, 
before half an hour was over, that he meant to address 
her and to be addressed by her as little as possible. 

Towards Helbeck the visitor's manner was more 
natural and more attractive. It was a manner of affec- 
tion, and great deference ; but even here the occasional 
bursts of conversation into which the Squire drew his 
guest were constantly interrupted by fits of silence or 
absence on the part of the scholastic. 

Perhaps the subject on which they talked most easily 
was that of Jesuit Missions especially of certain West 
African stations. Helbeck had some old friends there ; 
and Laura thought she detected that the young scholastic 
had himself missionary ambitions. 

Augustina too joined in with eagerness; Laura fell 

But she watched Helbeck, she listened to Helbeck 
throughout. How full his mind and heart were of 
matters, persons, causes, that must for ever represent a 
sealed world to her ! The eagerness, the knowledge with 
which he discussed them, roused in her that jealous, half- 
desolate sense that was becoming an habitual tone of 

And some things offended her taste. Helbeck showed 
most animation, and the young Jesuit most response 
whenever it was a question not so much of Catholic tri- 
umphs, as of Protestant rebuffs. The follies, mistakes 
and defeats of Anglican missions in particular Helbeck's 
.memory was stored with them. By his own confession 


he had made a Jesuit friend departing for the mission, 
promise to tell him any funny or discreditable tales that 
could be gathered as to their Anglican rivals in the same 
region. And while he repeated them for "Williams's 
amusement, he laughed immoderately he who laughed 
so seldom. The Jesuit too was convulsed threw off 
all restraint for the first time. 

The girl flushed brightly, and began to play with 
Bruno. Years ago she remembered hearing her father 
say approvingly of Helbeck's manner and bearing that 
they were those ' of a man of rank, though not of a man 
of fashion ; ' and it was hardly possible to say how much 
of Helbeck's first effect on her imagination had been 
produced by that proud unworldliness, that gently cold 
courtesy in which he was commonly wrapped. These 
silly pointless stories that he had been telling with 
such relish disturbed and repelled her. They revealed a 
new element in his character, something small and ugly, 
that was like the speck in a fine fruit, or, rather, like the 
disclosure of an angry sore beneath an outward health 
and strength. 

She recalled the incident of the land, and that cold 
isolation hi which Helbeck held himself towards his 
Protestant neighbours the passionate animosity with 
which he would sometimes speak of their charities or their 
pietisms, the contempt he had for almost all their ideals, 
national or social. Again and again, in the early days at 
Bannisdale it had ruffled or provoked her. 

Helbeck soon perceived that she was jarred. When 
she called to Bruno he checked his flow of anecdote, 
and said to her in a lower voice : 

' You think us uncharitable ? ' 

She looked up but rather at the Jesuit than at 

' No only it is not amusing ! If Augustina or I 


could speak for the other side that would be more 

' Laura ! ' cried Augustina, scandalised. 

' Oh, I know you wouldn't, if you could,' said the girl 
gaily. ' And I can't. So there it is. One can't stop you, 
I suppose ! ' 

She threw back her bright head and turned to Helbeck. 
The action was pretty and coquettish ; but there was a 
touch of fever in it, nevertheless, which did not escape 
the stranger sitting opposite to her. Brother Williams 
raised his down-dropped lids an instant. Those brilliant 
eyes of his took in the girl's beauty and the change in 
Helbeck's countenance. 

' You shall stop what you like,' said Helbeck. A mute 
conversation seemed to pass between him and Miss 
Fountain ; then the Squire turned to his sister, and asked 
her cheerfully as to the merits of a new pony that she and 
Laura had been trying that afternoon. 

After dinner Helbeck, much troubled by the pinched 
features and pale cheeks of his guest, descended himself 
to the cellar in search of a particular Burgundy laid down 
by his father and reputed to possess a rare medicinal force. 

Mr. Williams was left standing before the hearth, and 
the famous carved mantelpiece put up by the martyr of 
1596. As soon as Helbeck was gone he looked carefully 
furtively round the room. It was the look of the 
peasant appraising a world not his. 

A noise made by the wind at one of the old windows 
disturbed him. He looked up, and was caught by a 
photograph that had been propped against one of the 
vases of the mantelpiece. It was a picture recently 
taken of Miss Fountain sitting on the settle in the Hall 
with the dogs beside her. And it rendered the half -mock- 
ing animation of her small face with a peculiar fidelity. 


The young man was conscious of a strong movement 
of repulsion. Mr. Helbeck's engagement had sent a 
thrill of pain through a large section of the Catholic 
world ; and the Jesuit had already divined a hostile force 
in the small and brilliant creature whose eyes had scanned 
him so coldly as she sat beside the Squire. He fell into 
a reverie, and took one or two turns up and down the 

' Shall I ? ' he said to himself in an excitement that 
was half vanity, half religion. 

Half an hour later Laura was in the oriel window of 
the drawing-room, looking out through the open case- 
ment at the rising of a golden moon above the fell. Her 
mind was full of confusion. 

' Is he never to be free to say what he thinks and 
feels in his own house ? ' she asked herself passionately. 
' Or am I to sit by and see him sink to the level of these 
bigots ? ' 

Augustina was upstairs, and Laura, absorbed in her 
own thoughts and the night-loveliness of the garden, did 
not hear Helbeck and Mr. Williams enter the room, 
which was as usual but dimly lighted. Suddenly she 
caught the words : 

' So you still keep her ? That's good ! One could 
not imagine this room without her.' 

The voice was the voice of the Jesuit, but in a new 
tone more eager, more sincere. What were they talking 
of ? the picture ? And she, Laura, of course was hidden 
from them by the heavy curtain half -drawn across the 
oriel. She could not help waiting for Helbeck's reply. 

1 Ah ! you remember how she was threatened even 
when you first began to come here ! I have clung to 
her, of course there has always been a strong feeling 
about her in the family. Last week I thought again 


that she must go. But well ! it is too soon to speak I 
still have some hopes I have been straining every nerve. 
You know, however, that we must begin our new buildings 
at the orphanage in six weeks and that I must have 
the money ? ' 

He spoke with his usual simplicity. Laura dropped 
her head upon the window-sill, and the tears rushed into 
her eyes. 

' I know we all know what you have done and 
sacrificed for the faith,' said the younger man with 

' You will not venture to make a merit of it/ said 
Helbeck gravely. ' For we serve the same ends only 
you perceive them more clearly and follow them more 
persistently than I.' 

1 1 have stronger aids and shall have to answer for 
more ! ' said Williams, in a low voice. ' And I owe it 
all to you my friend and rescuer.' 

' You use a great deal too strong language,' said Hel- 
beck smiling. 

Williams threw him an uncertain look. The colour 
mounted in the young man's sickly cheek. He approached 
the Squire. 

'Mr. Helbeck I know from something a common 
friend told me that you think that you have said to 
others that my conversion was not your doing. You 
are mistaken. I should like to tell you the truth. 
May I ? ' 

Helbeck looked uncomfortable, but was not ready 
enough to stave off the impending confidence. Williams 
fixed him with eyes now fully lifted, and piercingly 

1 You said little that is quite true. But it was what 
you did, what I saw as I worked here beside you week 
after week that conquered me. Do you remember once 


rebuking me in anger because I had made some mistake 
in the chapel work ? You were very angry and I was 
cut to the heart. That very night you came to me, as 
I was still working, and asked my pardon you! Mr. 
Helbeck of Bannisdale, and I, a boy of sixteen, the son 
of the wheelwright who mended your farm carts. You 
made me kneel down beside you on the steps of the 
sanctuary and we said the Confiteor together. Don't 
say you forget it ! ' 

Helbeck hesitated, then spoke with evident unwilling- 

1 You make a great deal of nothing, my dear Edward. 
I had treated you to one of the Helbeck rages, I sup- 
pose and had the grace to be ashamed of myself.' 

1 It made me a Catholic,' said the other emphatically, 
' so I naturally dwell upon it. Next day I stole a 
" Garden of the Soul " and a book of meditations from 
your study. Then, on the pretext of the work, I used to 
make you tell me or read me the stories of the saints 
later, I often used to follow you in the morning when 
you went to Mass. I watched you day by day, till the 
sense of something supernatural possessed me. Then you 
noticed my coming to Mass you asked Father Bowles 
to speak to me you seemed to shrink or I thought so 
from speaking yourself. But it was not Father Bowles 
it was not my first teachers at St. Aloysius it was 
you who brought me to the faith ! ' 

'Well, if so, I thank God. But I think your 
humility ' 

1 One moment/ said the Jesuit hurriedly. ' There 
is something on my mind to say to you if I might bo 
allowed to say it if the gratitude, the strong and filial 
gratitude, which I feel towards you for that, and 
much, much else ' his voice shook ' might be my 

excuse ' 



Helbeck was silent. Laura to her dismay heard the 
sound of steps. Mr. Williams had walked to the open 
door of the drawing-room and closed it. What was she to 
do ? Indecision a wilful passion of curiosity held her 
where she was. 

It was some moments, however, before the conversation 
was resumed. At last the young man said in a tone of 
strong agitation 

'You may blame me my superiors may blame me. 
I have no leave no commission whatever. The impulse 
to speak came to me when I was waiting for you in the 
dining-room just now. I can only plead your own good- 
ness to me and the fact that I have remembered you 
before the Blessed Sacrament for these eight years. . . . 
It was an impression at meditation that I want to tell 
you of an impression so strong that I have never 
since been able to escape from it it haunts me per- 
petually. I was in our chapel at St. Aloysius. The 
subject of meditation was St. John vii. 36. " Every 
man went unto his own house " followed immediately 
by the first words of the eighth chapter "and Jesus 
went unto Mount Olivet." ... I endeavoured strictly to 
obey the advice of St. Ignatius. I placed myself at the 
feet of our Lord. I went through the Preludes. Then 
I began on the meditation. I saw the multitude returning 
to their homes and their amusements while our Lord 
went alone to the Mount of Olives. It was evening. 
The path seemed to me steep and weary and He was 
bent with fatigue. At first He was all alone darkness 
hung over the hill and the olive gardens. Then, suddenly, 
I became aware of forms that followed Him, at a long 
distance saints, virgins, martyrs, confessors. They 
swept along in silence. I could just see them as a dim 
majestic crowd. Presently, a form detached itself from 
the crowd to my amazement, I saw you distinctly 


there seemed to be a special light upon your face. And 
the rest appeared to fall back. Soon I only saw the Form 
toiling in front and you following. Then at the brow 
of the hill the Lord turned and you, who were halfway 
up the last steep, paused also. The Lord beckoned to 
you. His Divine face was full of sweetness and encourage- 
ment and you made a spring towards Him. Then 
something happened something horrible but I could 
hardly see what. But a figure seemed to snatch at you 
from behind you stumbled then you fell headlong. A 
black cloud fell from the sky and covered you. I heard 
a wailing cry I saw the Lord's face darkened and 
immediately afterwards the train of saints swept past 
me once more, with bent heads, beating their breasts. I 
cannot describe the extraordinary vividness of it ! The 
succession of thoughts and images never paused and 
when I woke, or seemed to wake, I found myself bathed 
in sweat and nearly fainting.' 

There was a dead silence. 

The scholastic began again, in still more rapid and 
troubled tones, to excuse himself. Mr. Helbeck might 
well think it presumption on his part to have repeated 
such a thing. He could only plead a strange pressure 
on his conscience a sense of obligation. The fact was 
probably nothing meant nothing. But if calamity 
came if it meant calamity and he had not delivered 
his message would there not have been a burden on 
his soul ? 

Suddenly there was a sound. The handle of the 
drawing-room turned. 

' Why, you are dark in here 1 ' said Augustina. ' What 
a wretched light that lamp gives ! ' 

At the same moment the heavy curtain over the oriel 
window was drawn to one side, and a light figure entered 

the room. 



The Jesuit made a step backwards. ' Laura ! ' cried 
Helbeck in bewilderment. ' Where have you come from ? ' 

' I was in the window watching the moon rise. Didn't 
you know ? ' 

She walked up to him, and without hesitation she 
did what she had never yet done before a spectator : she 
slipped her little hand into his. He looked down upon 
her, rather pale, his lips moving. Then withdrawing his 
hand, he quietly and proudly put his arm round her. 
She accepted the movement with equal pride, and without 
a word. 

Augustina looked at them with discomfort coughed, 
fumbled with her spectacles, and began to hunt for her 
knitting. The Jesuit, whiter and sicklier than before, 
murmured that he would go and rest after his journey, 
and with eyes steadily cast down he walked away. 

' I don't wonder ! ' thought Augustina, in an inward 
heat ; ' they really are too demonstrative ! ' 

That night, for the first time since her arrival at 
Bannisdale, Laura, instead of saying good night as soon 
as the clock reached a quarter to ten, quietly walked 
beside Augustina to the chapel. 

She knelt at some distance from Helbeck. But when 
the prayers, which were read by Mr. Williams, were over, 
and the tiny congregation was leaving the chapel, she 
felt herself drawn back. Helbeck did not speak, but in 
the darkness of the corridor he raised her hands and held 
them long against his lips. She quickly escaped from 
him, and without another word to any one she was 

But an hour or two later, as she lay wakeful in her 
room above the study, she still heard the sound of con- 
tinuous voices from below. 

Helbeck and the scholastic! plunged once more in 
that common stock of recollections and interests in which 


she had no part, linked and reconciled through all differ- 
ence by that Catholic freemasonry of which she knew 
nothing. The impertinent zeal of the evening the young 
man's ill manners and hypocrisies would be soon forgiven. 
In some ways Mr. Helbeck was more Jesuit than the 
Jesuits. He would not only excuse the audacity was 
she quite sure that in his inmost heart he would not 
shrink before the warning ? 

' What chance have I ? ' she cried, in a sudden despair.; 
and she wept long and miserably, oppressed by new 
terrors, new glimpses, as it were, of some hard or chilling 
reality that lay waiting for her in the dim corridors 
of life. 

Next morning after breakfast, Helbeck and Mr. 
Williams disappeared. A light scaffolding had been 
placed in the chapel. Work was to begin. 

Laura put on her hat, took a basket, and went into 
the garden to gather fresh flowers for the house. Along 
the edges of the bowling green stood rows of sunflowers, 
a golden show against the deep bronze of the thick beech 
hedges that enclosed the ground. Laura was trying, 
without much success, to reach some of the top blossoms 
of a tall plant, when Helbeck came upon her. 

' Be as independent as you please ! ' he said, laugh- 
ing 'but you will never be able to gather sunflowers 
without me ! ' 

In a moment her basket was filled. He looked down 
upon her. 

'You should live here in the bowling green. It 
frames you your white hat your grey dress. Laura 1 ' 
his voice leapt 'do I do enough to make you 
happy ? ' 

She flushed turned her little face, and smiled at 
him but rather sadly, rather pensively. Then she 


examined him in her turn. He looked jaded and tired. 
From want of sleep ? or merely from the daily fatigue 
of that long walk, foodless, to Whinthorpe for early 
Mass? That morning, as usual, by seven o'clock she 
had seen him crossing the Park. A cheerless rain was 
falling from a grey sky. But she had never yet known 
him stopped by weather. 

There was a quick association of ideas and she said 
abruptly : 

' Why did Mr. Williams say all that to you last night, 
do you suppose ? ' 

Helbeck's countenance changed. He sauntered on 
beside her, his hands in his pockets, frowning. But he 
did not reply, and she became impatient. 

' I have been reading a French story this morning,' 
she said quickly. ' There is a character in it a priest. 
The author says of him that he had " une imagination 
fausse et troubled." ' She paused, then added with great 
vivacity ' I thought it applied to some one else don't 

The fold in Helbeck's forehead deepened a little. 

'Have you judged him already? I don't know I 
can't take Williams, you see, quite as you take him ! To 
me he is still the strange gifted boy I taught to draw 
whom I had to protect from his brutal father. He has 
chosen the higher life, and will soon be a priest. He is 
therefore my superior. But at the same time I think I 
understand him and his character. I understand the kind 
of impulse the impetuosity that made him do and say 
what he did last night.' 

' It was our engagement, of course, that he meant by 
your fall the black cloud that covered you ? ' 

The impetuous directness was all Laura ; so was the 
sensitive change in eye and lip. But Helbeck neither 


wavered, nor caressed her. He had a better instinct. 
He looked at her with a penetrating glance. 

1 1 don't think he quite knew what he meant. And 
you ? Now I will carry the war into the enemy's country ! 
Were you quite kind quite right in doing what you did 
last night? Foolish or no, he was speaking in a very 
intimate way of things that he felt deeply. It must 
have given him great pain to be overheard.' 

Her breath fluttered. 

I It was quite an accident that I was there. But how 
could I help listening ? I must know I ought to know 
what your Catholic friends think what they say of me 
to you ! ' 

She was conscious of a childish petulance. But it 
was as though she could not help herself. 

' I wish you had not listened,' he said, with gentle 
steadiness. ' Won't you trust those things to me ? ' 

' What power have I beside theirs ? ' she said, turning 
away her head. He saw the trembling of the soft throat, 
and bent over her. 

I 1 only ask you, for both our sakes, not to test it too 

And taking her hand by force, he crushed it passion- 
ately in his own. 

But she was only half appeased. Her mind, indeed, 
was in that miserable state when love finds its only 
pleasure in self-torment. 

With a secret change of ground she asked him how he 
was going to spend the day. He answered, reluctantly, 
that there was a Diocesan Committee that would take 
the afternoon, and that the morning must be largely given 
to the preparation of papers. 

1 But you will come and look in upon me ? you will 
help me through ? ' 


She raised her shoulders resentfully. 

' And you have been to Whinthorpe already ! Why 
do you go to Mass every morning? ' she asked, looking up. 
' I know very few Catholics do. I wish you'd tell me.' 

He looked embarrassed. 

' It has been my custom for a long time,' he said at 

' But why ? ' 

1 Inquisitive person ! ' 

Her look of pain checked him. He observed her 
rather sadly and silently for a moment, then said : 

' I will tell you, dear, of course, if you want to know. 
It is one of the obligations of the third order of St. 
Francis, to which I belong.' 

' What does that mean ? ' 

He shortly explained. She cross-examined. He was 
forced to describe to her in detail all the main constitu- 
tions of the third order; its obligations as to fasting, 
attendance at Mass, and at the special meetings of the 
fraternity; its prescriptions of a rigid simplicity in life 
and dress ; its prohibition of theatre-going. 

She stood amazed. All her old notions of Catholics 
as gay people, who practised a free Sunday and allowed 
you to enjoy yourself, had been long overthrown by the 
Catholicism of Bannisdale. But this this might be 
Daffady's Methodism ! 

' So that is why you would not take us to Whinthorpe 
the other day to see that London company ? ' 

'It was an unsuitable play,' he said hastily. 
' Theatres are not wholly forbidden us ; but the exceptions 
must be few, and the plays such as a Catholic can see 
without harm to his conscience.' 

' But I love acting ! ' she cried, almost with a sense of 
suffocation. ' Whenever I could, I got Papa to take me 
to the play. I shall always want to go.' 


' There will be nothing to prevent you.' 

' So that anything is good enough for those who are 
not tertiaries ! ' she cried, confronting him. 

Her cheeks burned. Had there been any touch of 
spiritual arrogance in his tone ? 

' I think I shall not answer that,' he said, after a 

They walked on she blindly holding herself as far 
as possible from him ; he, with the mingled ardour and 
maladroitness of his character, longing and not quite 
venturing to cut the whole coil, and silence all this mood 
in her, by some masterfulness of love. 

Suddenly she paused she stepped to him she laid 
her fingers on his arms bright tears shone in her 

' You can't you can't belong to that when we are 
married ? ' 

' To the Third Order ? Bu\ dear ! there is nothing 
in it that conflicts with married life ! It was devised 
specially for persons living in the world. You would 
not have me give up what has been my help and salva- 
tion for ten years ? ' 

He spoke with great emotion. She trembled and hid 
her face against him. 

' Oh ! I could not bear it ! ' she said. ' Can't you 
realise how it would divide us ? I should feel outside 
a pariah. As it is, I seem to have nothing to do with 
half your life there is a shut door between me and it.' 

A flash of natural, of wholly irresistible feeling passed 
through him. He stooped and kissed her hair. 

' Open the door and come in ! ' he said in a whisper 
that seemed to rise from his inmost soul. 

She shook her head. They were both silent. The 
deep shade of the ' wilderness ' trees closed them in. 
There was a gentle melancholy in the autumn morning. 


The first leaves were dropping on the cob webbed grass ; 
and the clouds were low upon the fells. 

Presently Laura raised herself. ' Promise me you 
will never press me ' she said passionately ' don't send 
any one to me.' 

He sighed. 

' I promise.' 


ONE afternoon towards the end of Mr. Williams's visit, 
Laura was walking along a high field-path that over- 
looked the whole valley of the Flent. Helbeck had gone 
to meet the bishop on some urgent business ; but the name 
of his Catholic affairs was legion. 

The weather, after long days of golden mist, of veiled 
and stealing lights on stream and fell, had turned to rain 
and tumult. This afternoon, indeed, the rain had made 
a sullen pause. It had drawn back for an hour or two 
from the drenched valleys, even from the high peaks 
that stood violet-black against a space of rainy light. 
Yet still the sky was full of anger. The clouds, dark and 
jagged, rushed across the marsh-lands before the north- 
west wind. And the colour of everything of the moss, 
the peaks, the nearer crags and fields was superbly rich 
and violent. The soaked woods of the park from which 
she had just emerged, were almost black, and from their 
heart Laura could hear the river's swollen voice pursuing 
her as she walked. 

There was something in the afternoon that reminded 
her of her earliest impressions of Bannisdale and its fell 
country of those rainy March winds that were blow- 
ing about her when she first alighted at the foot of the 
old tower. 

The association made her tremble and catch her 
breath. It was not all joy oh 1 far from it 1 The 


sweet common rapture of common love was not hers. 
Instinctively she felt something in her own lot akin to 
the wilder and more tragic aspects of this mountain land, 
to which she had turned from the beginning with a 
daughter's yearning. 

Yet the tragedy, if tragedy there were, was all from 
within, not from without. Augustina though Laura 
guessed her mind well enough rcomplained no more. 
The marriage was fixed for November ; the dispensation 
from the bishop had been obtained. No lover could be 
more ardent, more tender than Helbeck. 

Why then this weariness this overwhelming melan- 
choly that seized her in all her solitary moments ? Her 
nature had lost its buoyancy, its old gift for happiness. 

The truth was that her will was tired out. Her whole 
soul thirsted to submit ; and yet could not submit. Was 
it the mere spell of Catholic order and discipline, working 
upon her own restless and ill-ordered nature ? It had so 
worked, indeed, from the beginning. She could recall 
with trembling many a strange moment in Helbeck's 
presence, or in the chapel, when she had seemed to feel her 
whole self breaking up, dissolving in the grip of a power 
that was at once her foe and the bearer of infinite 
seduction. But always the will, the self, had won the 
victory, had delivered a final ' No I ' into which had 
rushed the whole energy of her being. 

And now if it were only possible to crush back that 
' No ' to beat down this resistance which, like an alien 
garrison, defended, as it were, a town that hated it ; if 
she could only turn and knock knock humbly at that 
closed door in her lover's life and heart. One touch ! 
one step ! 

Just as Helbeck could hardly trust himself to think of 
the joy of conquest, so she shrank bewildered before the 
fancied bliss of yielding. 


To what awful or tender things would it admit her ! 
That ebb and flow of mystical emotion she dimly saw 
in Helbeck, a life within a life; all that is most 
intimate and touching in the struggle of the soul 
all that strains and pierces the heart the world to 
which these belong rose before her, secret, mysterious, 
' a city not made with hands,' now drawing, now repelling. 
Voices came from it to her that penetrated all the 
passion and the immaturity of her nature. 

The mere imagination of what it would mean to sur- 
render herself to Helbeck's teaching in these strange and 
moving things what it would be to approach them through 
the sweetness, the chiding, the training of his love could 
shake and unnerve her. , 

What stood hi the way ? 

Simply a revolt and repulsion that seemed to be more 
than and outside herself something independent and 
unconquerable, of which she was the mere instrument. 

Had the differences between her and Helbeck been 
differences of opinion, they would have melted like morn- 
ing dew. But they went far deeper. Helbeck, indeed, was 
in his full maturity. He had been trained by Jesuit 
teachers ; he had lived and thought ; his mind had a 
framework. Had he ever felt a difficulty, he would have 
been ready, no doubt, with the answer of the schools. 
But he was governed by heart and imagination no less 
than Laura. A serviceable intelligence had been used 
simply to strengthen the claims of feeling and faith. 
Such as it was, however, it knew itself. It was at 

But Laura ! Laura was the pure product of an 
environment. She represented forces of intelligence, of 
analysis, of criticism, of which in themselves she knew 
little or nothing, except so far as they affected all her 
modes of feeling. She felt as she had been born to feel, as 


she had been trained to feel. But when in this new conflict 
a conflict of instincts, of the deepest tendencies of two 
natures she tried to lay hold upon the rational life, to 
help herself by it and from it, it failed her everywhere. 
She had no tools, no weapons. The Catholic argument 
scandalised, exasperated her ; but she could not meet it. 
And the personal prestige and fascination of her lover did 
but increase with her, as her feeling grew more troubled 
and excited, and her intellectual defence weaker. 

Meanwhile to the force of temperament there was 
daily added the force of a number of childish prejudices 
and dislikes. She had come to Bannisdale prepared to 
hate all she saw there ; and with the one supreme excep- 
tion, hatred had grown at command. She was a creature 
of excess; of poignant and indelible impressions. The 
nuns, with their unintelligible virtues, and their very 
obvious bigotries and littlenesses ; the slyness and 
absurdities of Father Bowles; the priestly claims of 
Father Leadham ; the various superstitions and pecu- 
liarities of the many priests and religious who had 
passed through ' the house since she knew it alas ! 
she hated them all! and did not know how she was 
to help hating them in the future. These Catholic 
figures were to her so many disagreeable automata, 
moved by springs she could not possibly conceive, and 
doing perpetually the most futile and foolish things. 
She knew, moreover, by a sure instinct, that she had 
been unwelcome to them from the first moment of her 
appearance, and that she was now a stumbling-block and 
a grievance to them all. 

Was she by submission to give these people, so to 
speak, a right to meddle and dabble in her heart ? Was 
she to be wept over by Sister Angela to confess her sins 
to Father Bowles still worse, to Father Leadham ? As 
she asked herself the question, she shrank in sudden 


passion from the whole world of ideas concerned from 
all those stifling notions of sin, penance, absolution, direc- 
tion, as they were conventionalised in Catholic practice, 
and chattered about by stupid and mindless people. In 
defiance of them, her whole nature stood like a charged 
weapon, ready to strike. 

For she had been bred in that strong sense of personal 
dignity which in all ages has been the alternative to the 
abasements and humiliations of religion. And with that 
sense of dignity went reserve the intimate conviction 
that no feeling which is talked about, which can be observed 
and handled and measured by other people, is worth a rush. 
It was what seemed to her the spiritual intrusiveness of 
Catholicism, its perpetual uncovering of the soul its dis- 
respect for the secrets of personality its humiliation of the 
will that made it most odious in the eyes of this daugh- 
ter of a modern world, which finds in the development and 
ennobling of our human life its most characteristic faith. 

There were many moments indeed in which the whole 
Catholic system appeared to Laura's strained imagination 
as one vast chasse an assemblage of hunters and their 
toils against which the poor human spirit that was their 
quarry must somehow protect itself, with every possible 
wile or violence. 

So that neither submission, nor a mere light tolerance 
and forgetting, were possible. Other girls, it seemed, 
married Catholics and made nothing of it agreed 
pleasantly to differ all their lives. Her heart cried out ! 
There could be no likeness between these Catholic 
husbands and Alan Helbeck. 

In the first days of their engagement she had often 
said to herself : ' I need have nothing to do with it ! ' or 
' Some things are so lovely ! I will only think of them.' 
In those hours beside the sea it had been so easy to be 
tolerant and kind. Helbeck was hers from morning till 


night. And she, so much younger, so weak and small 
and ignorant, had seemed to hold his life, with all its 
unexplored depths and strengths, in her hand. 

And now ! 

She threw herself down on a rock that jutted from 
the wet grass, and gave herself up to the jealous pain that 
possessed her. 

A few days more and Mr. Williams would be gone. 
There was some relief in that thought. That strange 
scene in the drawing-room deep as all concerned had 
buried it in oblivious silence had naturally made his 
whole visit an offence to her. In her passionate way 
she felt herself degraded by his very presence in the 
house. His eyes constantly dropt, especially in her 
presence and Augustina's, his evident cold shrinking 
from the company of women she thought of them 
with disgust and anger. For she said to herself that 
now, she understood what they meant. 

Of late she had been constantly busy with the books 
that stood to the right of Helbeck's table. She could not 
keep herself away from them, although the signs of tender 
and familiar use they bore, were as thorns in her sore 
sense. Even his books were better friends to him than she ! 
And especially had she been dipping into those ' Lives of 
the Saints ' that Helbeck read habitually day by day ; of 
which he talked to young Williams with a minuteness of 
knowledge that he scarcely possessed on any other subject 
knowledge that appeared in all the details of the chapel 
painting. And on one occasion, as she turned over the 
small, worn volumes of his Alban Butler, she had 
come upon a certain passage in the life of St. Charles 
Borromeo : 

' Out of a most scrupulous love of purity . . . neither 
would he speak to any woman, not even to his pious 


aunt, or sisters, or any nun, but in sight of at least two 
persons, and in as few words as possible.' 

The girl flung it down. Surrounded as she often was 
by priests affronted by those downcast eyes of the 
scholastic the passage came upon her as an insult. Her 
cheeks burnt. Instinctively she showed herself that even- 
ing more difficult and exacting than ever with the man 
who loved her, and could yet feed his mind on the virtues 
of St. Charles Borromeo. 

Nevertheless, she was often puzzled by the manner 
and demeanour of the young Jesuit. 

During his work at the chapel frescoes certain 
curious transformations seemed to have passed over him. 
Or was it merely the change of dress ? While painting 
he wore a long holland blouse that covered the clerical 
coat, concealed the clumsy limbs and feet, and con- 
centrated the eye of the spectator on the young beauty 
of the head. When a visitor entered he would look up 
for an instant flushed with work and ardour, then plunge 
again into what he was doing. Art had reclaimed him ; 
Laura could almost have said the Jesuit had disappeared. 
And what an astonishing gift there was in those clumsy 
fingers ! His daring delicacies of colour ; his ways of 
using the brush, that seemed to leave no clue behind ; the 
liquid shimmer and brilliancy of his work Helbeck could 
only explain them by saying that he had once taken him 
as a lad of nineteen to see a loan exhibition at Manchester, 
and then to the gallery at Edinburgh 

' There were three artists that he fastened upon 
Watteau ! I have seen him recoil from the subjects (he was 
already balancing whether he should becoma a religious) 
and then go back again and again to the pictures, feed- 
ing himself upon them. Then there were two or three 
Rembrandts, and two or three Tintorets. One Tintoret 



Entombment I remember a small picture. I never 
could get him away from it. He told me once that it 
was like something painted in powdered gems and then 
dipped in air. I believe he got the expression from some 
book he was reading,' said Helbeck, with the good- 
humoured smile of one who does not himself indulge in 
the fineries of language. . . . ' When we came home I 
borrowed a couple of pictures for him from a friend in 
Lancashire, who has good things. One was a Eembrandt 
" The Casting-out of Hagar " I have his copy of it in 
my room now the other was a Tintoret sketch. He 
worked at them for days and weeks, pondering and copy- 
ing them, bit by bit, till he was almost ill with excitement 
and enthusiasm. But you see the result in what he does.' 

And Helbeck smiled upon the artist with the affec- 
tionate sympathy of an elder brother. He and Laura 
were standing together one morning at the west end of 
the chapel, while Williams, in his blouse and mounted 
on a high stool, was painting a dozen yards away. 

' And then he gave it up ! ' said Laura under her 
breath. ' Who can understand that ? ' 

Helbeck hesitated a little. His face was crossed for 
a moment by the shadow of some thought that he did not 
communicate. Then he said, ' He came as I told you 
to think that it was right and best for him to do so. An 
artist, darling, has to think of the Four Last Things, like 
anybody else ! ' 

' The Four Last Things ! ' said Laura, startled. ' What 
do you mean ? ' 

' Death Judgment Heaven and Hell.' 

The words fell slowly from the half-whispering voice 
into the quiet darkness of the chapel. Laura looked up 
Helbeck' s eyes, fixed upon the Crucifix over the altar f 
seemed to receive thence a stern and secret message 
to which the whole man responded. 


The girl moved restlessly away. 

' Let us go and see what he is doing.' 

As they approached, Williams turned to Helbeck he 
seemed not to see Miss Fountain and said a few trou- 
bled phrases that showed him wholly dissatisfied with 
his morning's work. Beads of perspiration stood on his 
brow; his lips were pinched and feverish; his eyes 
unhappy. He pointed Helbeck to the figure he was 
engaged upon a strange dream of St. Mary of Egypt, 
as a very old woman, clothed in the mantle of Zosimus 
the lion who was to bury her, couchant at her feet. 
Helbeck looked into it ; admired some points, criticised 
others. Williams got down from his stool, talked with a 
low- voiced volubility, an egotistical passion and disturbance 
that roused astonishment in Laura. Till then she had 
been acquainted only with the measured attitudes and 
levelled voice that the Jesuit learns from the ' Eegulae 
Modestiae ' of his order. But for the first time she felt 
a certain sympathy with him. 

Afterwards for some days the young man, so recently 
an invalid, could hardly be persuaded to take sufficient 
exercise or food. He was absorbed in his saint, and in 
the next figure beyond her, that was already growing 
under his brush. St. Ursula, white robed and fair 
haired, was springing like a flower from the wall ; her 
delicate youth shone beside the age and austerity, the 
penitence and emaciation of St. Mary of Egypt. Both 
looked towards the altar ; but St. Mary with a mystic 
sadness that both adored and quailed ; St. Ursula with 
the rapture, the confidence of a bride. 

The artist could not be torn from his conception ; and 
upon Laura too the spell of the work steadily grew. 
She would slip into the chapel at all hours, and watch ; 
sometimes standing a little way from the painter, a black 
lace scarf thrown round her bright hair, sometimes sitting 


motionless with a book on her knee, which she did not 
read. When Helbeck was there conversation arose into 
which she was often drawn. And out of a real wish to 
please Helbeck, she would silence her own resentments, 
and force herself to be friendly. Insensibly Williams 
began to talk to her; and it would sometimes happen, 
when Helbeck went away for a time, that the cold reserve 
or mauvaise honte of the Jesuit would melt wholly before 
the eagerness of the artist when, with intervals of a 
brusque silence, he talked with the rapidity and force of a 
turbid stream on the imaginations and the memories em- 
bodied in his work. And on one occasion, when the painter 
was busy with the head of St. Ursula, Laura, who was 
talking to Helbeck a few yards away, turned suddenly 
and found those dark strange eyes, that as a rule evaded 
her, fixed steadily and intently upon her. Next day she 
fancied with a start of dislike that in the lines of St. 
Ursula's brow, and in the arrangement of the hair there 
was a certain resemblance to herself. But Helbeck did 
not notice it, and nothing was said. 

At meals, too, conversation turned now more on art 
than on missions. Pictures seen by the two friends years 
before ; Helbeck's fading recollections of Florence and 
Eome ; modern Catholic art as it was being developed 
in the Jesuit churches of the Continent : of these things 
Williams would talk, and talk eagerly. Sometimes Augus- 
tina would timidly introduce some subject of greater 
practical interest to the commonplace English Catholic. 
Mr. Williams would let it drop ; and then Mrs. Fountain 
would sit silent and ill at ease, her head and hands 
twitching in a helpless bewildered way. 

But in a moment came a change. After a certain 
Thursday when he was at work all day, the young 
man painted no more. Beyond St. Ursula, St. Eulalia 


of Saragossa, Virgin and Martyr, had been sketched in, 
with a strange force of line and some suggestions both of 
colour and symbolism that held Laura fascinated. But 
the sketch remained ghostlike on the wall. The high 
stool was removed ; the blouse put away. 

Thenceforward Mr. Williams to Laura's secret anger 
spent hours in Helbeck's study reading. His avoidance 
of her society and Mrs. Fountain's was more marked than 
ever. His face, which in the first days at Bannisdale had 
begun to recover a certain boyish bloom, became again 
white and drawn. The eyes were scarcely ever seen ; if, 
by some rare chance, the heavy lids did lift, the fire and 
brilliance of the gaze below were startling to the bystander. 
But for the most part he seemed to be wrapped in a 
dumb sickliness and pain ; his person was even less cleanly, 
his clothes less cared for than before. At table he hardly 
talked at all ; never of painting, or of any topic connected 
with it. 

Once or twice Laura caught Helbeck's look fixed 
upon his guest in what seemed to her anxiety or perplexity. 
But when she carelessly asked him what might be wrong 
with Mr. Williams, the Squire gave a decided answer. 

' He is ill and we ought not to have allowed him to 
do this work. There must be complete rest till he goes.' 

' Has he seen his father ? ' asked Laura. 

' No. That is still hanging over him.' 

1 Does his father wish to see him ? ' 

' No ! But it is his duty to go.' 

' Why ? That he may onjoy a little more martyrdom ? ' 

Helbeck laughed and captured her hand. 

' What penalty do I exact for that ? ' 

' It doesn't deserve any,' she said quickly. ' I don't 
think it is for health he has given up his painting. I 
believe he is unhappy.' 


'It may have revived old struggles/ said Helbeck, 
with a sigh that seemed to escape him against his will. 

' Why doesn't he give it all up,' she said with energy, 
' and be an artist ? That's where his heart, his strength 

Helbeck's manner changed and stiffened. 

' You are entirely mistaken, dearest. His heart and 
his strength are in his vocation in making himself a 
good Jesuit.' 

She shook her head obstinately, with that rising 
breath of excitement which the slightest touch of differ- 
ence was now apt to call up. 

' I don't think so ! and I have watched him. Sup- 
pose he did give it all up ? He could, of course, at any 

Helbeck tried to smile and change the subject. But 
/Laura persisted. Till at last the Squire said with pain : 

' Darling I don't think you know how these things 
sound in Catholic ears.' 

' But I want to know. You see, I don't understand 
anything about vows. I can't imagine why that man 
can't walk into a studio and leave his clerical coat behind 
him to-morrow. To me nothing seems easier. He is a. 
human being, and free.' 

Helbeck was silent, and began to put some letters 
in order that were lying on his table. Laura's caprice 
only grew stronger. 

' If he were to leave the Jesuits,' she said, ' would 
you break with him ? ' 

As Mr. Williams was safely in the park with 
Augustina, Laura had resumed her accustomed place in 
the low seat beside Helbeck's writing-table. Augustina, 
for decorum's sake, had her armchair on the further side 
of the fireplace, where she often dozed, knitted, and read 
the newspapers. But she left the betrothed a good deal 


alone, less from a natural feminine sympathy than 
because she fed herself day by day on the hope that, in 
spite of all, Alan would yet set himself in earnest to the 
task that was clearly his the task of Laura's conver- 

Helbeck showed no more readiness to answer her 
second inquiry than her first. He seemed to be absorbed 
in reading over a business letter. 

Laura's pride was roused. Her cheeks flushed, and 
she repeated her question, her mind filled all the time 
with that mingled dread and wilfulness that must have 
possessed poor Psyche when she raised the lamp. 

' Well, no/ said Helbeck, dryly, without lifting his 
eyes from his letter ' I don't suppose that he would 
remain my friend, under such strange circumstances or 
that he would wish it.' 

' So you would cast him off ? ' 

' Why will you start such uncomfortable topics, dear ? ' 
he said half laughing. ' What has poor Williams done 
that you should imagine such things ? ' 

' I want to know what you would do if Mr. Williams 
if any priest you know were to break his vows and 
leave the Church, what would you do ? ' 

' Follow the judgment of the Church,' said Helbeck 

' And give up your friend 1 ' 

' Friendship, darling, is a complex thing it depends 
upon so much. But I am so tired of my letters ! Your 
hat is in the hall. Won't you come out ? ' 

He rose, and bent over her tenderly, his hand on the 
table. In a flash she felt all the strange dignity, the 
ascetic strength of his personality ; it was suggested this 
time by the mere details of dress by the contrast 
between the worn and shabby coat, and the stern 
force of the lips, the refined individuality of the hand. 


She was filled anew with the sudden sense that she knew 
but half of him a sudden terror of the future. 

She lay back in her chair, meeting his eyes and 
trying to smile. But in truth she was quivering with 

' I won't move till I have my answer ! Please tell me 
would would you regard him as a lost soul ? ' 

' Dearest ! I am neither Williams's judge nor any one 
else's ! Of course I must hold that a man who breaks 
the most solemn vows endangers his soul. What else 
do you expect of me ? ' 

1 What do you mean by " soul " ? Have I a soul? 
and what do you suppose is going to happen to it ? ' 

The words were flung out with a concentrated pas- 
sion almost an anguish that for the moment struck 
him dumb. They both grew pale; he looked at her 
steadily, and spoke her name, in a low appealing voice. 
But she took no notice ; she rose, and, turning away from 
him, she leant against the mantelpiece, speaking with a 
choking eagerness that forced its way. 

'You were in the chapel last night very late. I 
know, for I heard the door open and shut. You must 
be unhappy, or you wouldn't spend so much time pray- 
ing. Are you unhappy about me ? I know you don't 
want to force me ; but if, in time, I don't agree with 
you if it goes on all our lives how can you help think- 
ing that I shall be lost lost eternally separated from 
you ? You would think it of Mr. Williams if he left the 
Church. I know you told me once about ignorance 
invincible ignorance. But here there will be no 
ignorance. I shall have seen everything heard every- 
thing known everything. If living here doesn't teach 
one, what could? And' she paused, then resumed 
with even greater emphasis ' and as far as I can see 
I shall reject it all wilfully, knowingly, deliberately. 


What will you say ? What do you say now to yourself 
when when you pray for me ? W T hat do you really 
think what do you fear what must you fear ? I ought 
to know.' 

Helbeck looked at her without answering for a 
long moment. Her agitation, his painful silence, bore 
pitiful testimony to the strange, insurmountable reality 
of those facts of the spirit that stood like rocks in the 
stream of their love. 

At last he held out his hands to her with that half 
reproachful gesture he had often used towards her. ' I 
fear nothing! I hope everything. You never forbade 
me that. Will you leave my love no mysteries, Laura 
no reserve ? Nothing for you to discover and explore 
as time goes on ? ' 

She trembled under the mingled remonstrance and 
passion of his tone. But she persisted. ' It's because 
I feel other things come before love. Tell me I have 
a right to know. I shall never come first quite first 
shall I ? ' 

She forced the saddest, proudest of smiles, as he took 
her reluctant hands. 

And involuntarily her eyes travelled over the room, 
over the crucifix above the faldstool, the little altar to 
St. Joseph, the worn books upon his table. They were 
to her like the weapons and symbols of an enemy. 

He made her no direct answer. His face was for a 
moment grave and set. Then he roused himself, kissed 
the hands he held, and resolutely began to talk of some- 
thing else. 

When a few minutes later he left her alone, she stood 
there quivering under the touch of power by which he 
had silenced her under the angry sense that she was 
less and less able as the days went by to draw or drive 
him into argument. The more thorny her mood became, 


the more sadly did he seem to hide the treasures of the 
soul from her. 

These memories, and many like them, were passing 
and repassing through Laura's mind as she sat listless 
and sad on the hill-side. 

When at last she shook them off, the light was failing 
over the western wall of mountains. She had an errand 
to do for Augustina in the village that lay half way to the 
daffodil wood, and she sprang up, wondering whether 
there was still time for it before dark. 

As she hurried on towards a stile that lay across 
the path, she saw a woman approaching on the further 

' PoUy ! ' 

The figure addressed stood still a moment in astonish- 
ment, then ran to meet the speaker. 

1 Laura ! well, I'm sure ! ' 

The two girls kissed each other. Laura looked gaily, 
wistfully at her cousin. 

' Polly are you all very cross with me still ? ' 

Polly hesitated and fenced. Laura sighed. But she 
looked at the stout red-faced woman with a peculiar 
flutter of pleasure. The air of the wild upland all the 
primitive, homely facts of the farm, seemed to come about 
her again. She had left Bannisdale, choked with feeling, 
tired with thought. Polly's broad speech and bouncing 
ways were welcome as a breeze in summer. 

They sat down on the stile side by side. Laura gave 
up her errand ; and they talked fast. Polly was all 
curiosity. When was Laura to be married, and what was 
she to wear ? 

' The plainest thing I can find,' said Laura, in- 
differently. ' Unless Augustina teases me into something 
I don't want.' Polly inquired if it would be in church. 


1 In a Catholic church,' said Laura, with a shrug. ' No 
flowers no music. They just let you be married that's 

Polly's eyes jumped with amazement. ' Why, I thowt 
they had everything so grand ! ' 

' Not if you will go and marry a heretic like me,' said 
Laura. ' Then they make you know your place.' 

' But but Laura ! yo're to be a Eomanist too for 
sure ? ' cried Polly in bewilderment. 

' Do you think so ? ' said Laura. Her eyes sparkled. 
She was sitting on the edge of the stile, one small foot 
dangling. Polly's rustic sense was once more vaguely 
struck by the strange mingling in the little figure of an 
extreme, an exquisite delicacy with some tough, incal- 
culable element. Miss Fountain's soft lightness seemed to 
offer no more resistance than a daffodil on its stalk. But 
approach her ! whether it was poor Hubert or even ? 

Polly looked and spoke her perplexity. She let Laura 
know that Miss Fountain's conversion was assumed at 
Browhead Farm. Through her blundering though not 
unkindly talk, Laura gradually perceived indeed a score 
of disagreeable things. Mrs. Mason and her fanatical 
friend, Mr. Bayley, were both persuaded so it seemed 
that Miss Fountain had set her cap at the Squire from 
the beginning, ready at a moment's notice to swallow the 
Scarlet Lady when required. And Catholic and Protestant 
alike were kind enough to say that she had made use of 
her cousin to draw on Mr. Helbeck. The neighbourhood, 
in fact, held her to be a calculating little minx, ripe for 
plots and Papistry, or anything else that might suit a 
daring game. 

The girl gradually fell silent. Her head drooped. 
Her eyes looked at Polly askance and wistfully. She 
did not defend herself ; but she showed the wound. 

' Well, I'm sorry you don't understand,' she said at 


last, while her voice trembled. ' Perhaps you will some 
day. I don't know. Anyway, will you please tell Cousin 
Elizabeth that I'm not going to be a Catholic ? Perhaps 
that will comfort her a little.' 

1 But howiver are you goin to live wi Mr. Helbeck 
then ? ' asked Polly. Her loud surprise conveyed the 
image of Helbeck as it lay graven in the minds of the 
Browhead circle a sort of triple-crowned, black-browed 
tyrant with all the wiles and torments of Eome in his 
pocket. A wife resist defy? The Church knows how 
to deal with naughtiness of that kind. 

Laura laughed. 

' We can but try. But now then ' she bent forward 
and put her hands impulsively on Polly's shoulders 
' tell me about everybody, and everything. How's Daffady 
how's the cow that was ill how're the calves how's 
Hubert ? ' 

She laughed again, but there was moisture in her 
look. For the thousandth time, her heart told her that in 
this untoward marriage she was wrenching herself anew 
from her father and all his world. 

Polly rather tossed her head at the mention of 
Hubert. She replied with some tartness that he was 
doing very well nobody indeed could be doing better. 
Did Laura's eyebrows go up the very slightest trifle ? If 
so the sister beat down the surprise. Hubert no doubt 
had been upset, and a bit wild, after well, Laura might 
guess what ! But that was all past now, long ago. 
There was a friend a musical friend a rescuer who 
had appeared, in the shape of a young organist who 
had come to lead the Froswick Philharmonic Society. 
Hubert was living with him now, and the young man, of 
whom all Froswick thought a wonderful deal, was look- 
ing after him, and making him write his songs. Some of 
them were to be sung at a festival 


Laura clapped her hands. 

' I told him ! ' she said gaily. ' If he'll only work he'll 
do. And he is keeping straight? ' 

Her look was keen and sisterly. She wished to 
show that she had forgotten and forgiven. But Polly 
resented it. 

' Why shouldn't he be keeping straight ? ' she asked. 
No doubt Laura had thought him just a ne'er do weel. 
But he was nothing of the sort he was a bit wild and 
unruly, as young men are ' same as t' colts afoor yo break 
'em.' But Laura would have done much better for her- 
self if she had stayed quietly with him that night at 
Braeside, and let him take her over the sands, as he 
wished to, instead of running away from him in that 
foolish way. 

Polly spoke with significance nay, with heat. Laura 
was first startled, then abashed. 

' Do you think I made a ridiculous fuss ? ' she said 

humbly. ' Perhaps I did. But if if ' she spoke 

slowly, drawing patterns on the wood of the stile with 
her finger, ' if I hadn't seen him drunk once I suppose 
I shouldn't have been afraid.' 

' Well, you 'd no call to be afraid ! ' cried Polly. 
' Hubert vowed to me, as he hadna had a drop of ony- 
thing. And after all, he's a relation an if you 'd walked 
wi him, you 'd not ha had telegrams sent aboot you to 
make aw th' coontry taak ! ' 

' Telegrams ! ' Laura stared. ' Oh, I know Mr. 
Helbeck telegraphed to the station-master but it must 
have come after I'd left the station.' 

' Aye an t' station-master sent word back to Mr. 
Helbeck ! Perhaps you doan't knaw ony thing aboot 
that ! ' exclaimed Polly, triumphantly. 

Laura turned rather pale. 

' A telegram to Mr. Helbeck ? ' 


Polly, surprised at so much ignorance, could not forego 
the sensation that it offered her. She bit her lip, but the 
lip would speak. So the story of the midnight telegram 
as it had been told by that godly man Mr. Cawston of 
Braeside to that other godly man Mr. Bayley, perpetual 
curate of Browhead, and as by now it had gone all about 
the countryside came piecemeal out. 

' Oh ! an at that Papist shop i' th' High Street you 
remember that sickly-lukin fellow at the dance they do 
say at they do taak shameful ! ' exclaimed Polly, indig- 

' What do they say ? ' said Laura in a low voice. 

Polly hesitated. Then out of sheer nervousness she 
blundered into the harshest possible answer. 

' Well,they said that Mr. Helbeck could do no different, 
that he did it to save his sister from knowing ' 

' Knowing what ? ' said Laura. 

Polly declared that she wasn't just certain. ' A set 
o* slanderin backbitin tabbies as soom o' them Catholics 
is ! ' But she believed they said that Mr. Helbeck had 
asked Miss Fountain to marry him out of kindness, to 
shut people's mouths, and keep it from his sister 

' Keep what ? ' said Laura. Her eyes shone in her 
quivering proud face. 

'Why, I suppose at you 'd been carryin on wi 
Hubert, and walkin aboot wi him aw neet,' said Polly 

And she again insisted how much wiser it would have 
been if Laura had just gone quietly over the sands to 
Marsland. There, no doubt, she might have got a car 
straight away, and there might have been no talk whatever. 

' Mightn't there ? ' said Laura. Her little chin was 
propped in her hand. Her gaze swept the distant 
water of the estuary mouth, as it lay alternately dark and 
shining under the storm lights of the clouds. 


1 An I'll juist warn yo o' yan thing, Laura,' said 
Polly, with fresh energy. ' There's soom one at Bannis- 
dale itsel, as spreads aw maks o' tales. There's a body 
theer, as is noa friend o' yours.' 

1 Oh ! Mrs. Denton,' said Laura, languidly. ' Of 

Then she fell silent. Not a word passed the small 
tightened lips. The eyes were fixed on distance or 

Polly began to be frightened. She had not meant any 
real harm ; though perhaps there had been just a touch 
of malice in her revelations. Laura was going to marry a 
Papist ; that was bad. But also she was going to marry 
into a sphere far out of the Masons' ken : and she had 
made it very plain that Hubert and the likes of Hubert 
were not good enough for her. Polly was scandalised on 
religion's account ; but also a little jealous and sore, in a 
natural feminine way on her own ; the more so as Mr. 
Seaton had long since ceased to pay Sunday visits to the 
farm, and Polly had a sharp suspicion as to the when and 
why of that gentleman's disillusionment. There had 
been a certain temptation to let the future mistress of 
Bannisdale know that the neighbourhood was not all 
whispering humbleness towards her. 

But at bottom Polly was honest and kind. So when 
she saw Laura sit so palely still, she repented her. She 
implored that Laura would not ' worrit ' herself about such 
fooleries. And then she added 

' But I wonder at Mr. Helbeck didna juist tell yo him- 
sel aboot that telegram ! ' 

'Do you?' said Laura. Her eyes flashed. She got 
down from the stile. ' Good-bye, Polly ! I must be going 

Suddenly Polly gripped her by the arm. 

' Luke there ! ' she said in excitement. ' Luke ! theer 


he goes ! That's Teddy Teddy Williams ! I knew as 
I had summat to tell you an when you spoak o' Hubert 
it went oot o' my head.' 

Laura looked at her cousin first, in astonishment, and 
then at the dark figure walking on the road below the 
straight white road that ran across the marsh, past the 
lonely forge of old Ben Williams, the wheelwright, to the 
foot of the tall ' Scar,' opposite, where it turned seaward, 
and so vanished in the dimness of the coast. It was the 
Jesuit certainly. The two girls saw him plainly in the 
strong storm light. He was walking slowly with bent 
head, and seemed to be reading. His solitary form, black 
against the white of the road, made the only moving thing 
in the wide, rain-drenched landscape. 

Laura instantly guessed that he had been paying his 
duty visit to his home. And Polly, it appeared, had been 
a witness of it. 

For the cottage adjoining the wheelwright's workshop 
and forge, where Edward Williams had been brought 
up, was now inhabited by his father and sister. The 
sister, Jenny, was an old friend of Polly Mason's, who 
had indeed many young memories of the scholastic 
himself. They had been all children or school-mates 

And this afternoon, while she was in the parlour with 
Jenny, all of a sudden voices and clamour in the forge 
outside ! The son, the outcast son, had quietly presented 
himself to his father. 

' 0, an sic a to-do ! His fadther wadna let him ben. 
" Naa," he says, " if thoo 's got owt to say, thoo may say 
it i' th' shop. Jenny doan't want tha ! " An Jenny 
luked oot an I just saw Teddy turn an speak to her 
beggin her like, a bit masterfu too, aw t' time an she 
flounced back again " Keep yor distance, will yer ! " 
an slammed to the door an fell agen it, cryin. And 


sic a shoutin and hollerin frae the owd man ! He made a 
gradely noise, he did bit never a word fra Teddy not 
as yo cud hear, I'll uphowd yo ! An at lasst when Jenny 
an I opened t' door again juist a cranny like theer 
he was, takin hissel off his fadther screamin afther him 
an he wi his Papish coat, an his head hangin as thoo 
there wor a load o' peat on it an his hands crossed 
soa pious ! Aye, theer he goes ! and he may goa ! ' 
cried Polly, her face flaming as it followed the Jesuit 
out of sight. 'When a mon's treated his aan mother 
that gate, it's weary wark undoin it. Aye, soa 'tis, 
Mr. Teddy soa 'tis 1 ' And she raised her voice vin- 

Laura's lip curled. 

' Do you think he cares one rap ? It was his duty 
to go and see his father so he went. And now he's all 
the more certain he's on the road to heaven because his 
father abused him, and his sister turned him out. He's 
going to be a priest directly and a missionary after that 
and a holy martyr, too, if he gets his deserts. There's 
always fever, or natives, handy. What do earth-worms 
like mothers and sisters matter to him ? ' 

Polly stared. Even she, as she looked, as she heard, 
felt that a gulf opened that a sick soul spoke. 

' Oh ! an I'd clean forgot,' she faltered ' as he must 
be stay in at Bannisdale as yo wad be seein him.' 

' I see so many of them,' said Laura, wearily. She 
took up her bag that had been leaning against the stile. 
' Now, good-bye ! 

Suddenly Polly's eyes brimmed with tears. She flung 
an arm round the slim childish creature. 

' Laura, whatever did you do it for ? I doan't believe 
as yo're a bit happy i' yor mind ! Coom away ! we'se 
luke after you we're your aan kith an kin 1 ' 

Laura paused in Polly's arm. Then she turned her 



wild face the eyes half closed, the pale lips passionately 

' I'll come, Polly, when I'm dead or my heart's dead 
not before ! ' 

And, wrenching herself away, she ran down the path. 
Polly, with her clutch of Brahma eggs in her hand, that 
she was taking to the Bannisdale Bridge Farm, leant against 
the stile and cried. 



' ALAN ! is it to-night you expect Father Lsadham ? ' 

' Yes,' said Helbeck. 

' Have you told Laura ? ' 

1 1 will remind her that we expect him. It is 
annoying that I must leave you to entertain him to- 

' Oh ! we shall do very well,' said Augustina rather 
eagerly. ' Alan, have you noticed Laura, yesterday and 
to-day? She doesn't look strong.' 

' I know,' said the Squire shortly. His eyes were fixed 
all the time on the little figure of Laura, as she sat list- 
lessly in a sunny corner of the bowling-green, with a book 
on her knee. 

Augustina, who had been leaning on his arm, went 
back to the house. Helbeck advanced and threw himself 
down beside Laura. 

' Little one if you keep such pale cheeks what am I 
to do?' 

She looked down upon him with a languid smile. 

1 1 am all right.' 

' That remark only fills up your misdoings ! If I go 
down and get the pony-carriage, will you drive with me 
through the park and tell me everything everything that 
has been troubling you the last few days ? ' 

His voice was very low, his eyes all tenderness. He 
had been reproaching himself that he had so often of late 



avoided difficult discussions and thorny questions with 
her. Was she hurt ? and did he deserve it ? 

1 1 will go driving with you,' she said slowly. 

' Very well ' he sprang up ' I will be back in twenty 
minutes with the pony.' 

He left her, and she dreamed afresh over her book. 

She was thinking of a luncheon at Whinthorpe, to 
which she had been taken, sorely against her will, to meet 
the Bishop. And the Bishop had treated her with a 
singular and slighting coldness. There was no blinking 
the fact in the least. Other people had noticed it. 
Helbeck had been pale with wrath and distress. As far 
as she could remember, she had laughed and talked a good 

Well, what wonder ? if they thought her just a fast 
ill-conducted girl, who had worked upon Mr. Helbeck's 
pity and softness of heart ? 

Suddenly she put out her hand restlessly to pluck at 
the hedge beside her. She had been stung by the 
memory of herself under the Squire's window, in the 
dawn. She saw herself helpless, and asleep, the tired 
truant come back to the feet of her master. When he 
found her so, what could he do but pity her ? be moved, 
perhaps beyond bounds, by the goodness of a generous 
nature ? 

Next, something stronger than this doubt touched the 
lips with a flying smile shy and lovely. But she was 
far from happy. Since her talk with Polly especially, her 
pride was stabbed and tormented in all directions. And 
her nature was of the proudest. 

Where could she feel secure? In Helbeck's heart? 
But in the inmost shrine of that heart she felt the brooding 
of a majestic and exacting power that knew her not. Her 
jealousy her fear grew day by day. 

And as to the rest, her imagination was full of the most 


feverish and fantastic shapes. Since her talk with Polly 
the world had seemed to her a mere host of buzzing 
enemies. All the persons concerned passed through her 
fancy with the mask and strut of caricature. The little 
mole on sister Angela's nose the slightly drooping eye- 
lid that marred the Keverend Mother's left cheek the 
nasal twang of the orphans' singing Father Bowles 
pouncing on a fly Father Leadham's stately ways she 
made a mock or an offence out of them all, bitterly 
chattering and drawing pictures with herself, like a 
child with a grievance. 

And then on the top of these feelings and exaggera- 
tions of the child, would return the bewildering, the ever- 
increasing trouble of the woman. 

She sprang up. 

' If I could if I could ! Then it would be we two 
together against the rest. Else how shall I be his wife 
at all ? ' 

She ran into the study. There on the shelf beside 
Helbeck's table stood a little Manual of Catholic Instruc- 
tion, that she knew well. She turned over the pages, 
till she came to the sections dealing with the reception 
of converts. 

. How often she had pored over them ! Now she pored 
over them again, twisting her lips, knitting her white 

' No adult baptised Protestant [' Am I a Protestant ? 
I am baptised ! '] is considered to be a convert to the 
Catholic Church until he is received into the Church 
according to the prescribed rite [' There ! it's the broken 
glass on the wall. But if one could just slip in without 
fuss or noise ? '] ... You must apply to a Catholic priest, 
who will judge of your dispositions, and of your know- 
ledge of the Catholic faith. He will give you further 
instruction, and explain your duties, and how you have to 


act. When he is satisfied [' Father Leadham ! satisfied 
with me ! '], you go to the altar or to the sacristy, or 
other place convenient for your reception. The priest 
who is with you says certain prayers appointed by the 
Church ; you in the meantime kneel down and pray 
silently (' I prayed when papa died.' She looked up, 
her face trembling 'Else? Yes once! that night when 
I went in to prayers.') You will then read or repeat aloud 
after the priest the Profession of Faith, either the Creed of 
Pope Pius IV ' (' That's let me see ! that's the Creed 
of the Council of Trent ; there's a note about it in one of 
papa's books.' She recalled it, frowning : ' I often think 
that we of the Liberal Tradition have cause to be thank- 
ful that the Tridentine Catholics dug the gulf between 
them and the modern world so deep. Otherwise, now that 
their claws are all pared, and only the honey and fairy- 
tales remain, there would be no chance at all for the 
poor rational life.') 

She drew a long breath, taking a momentary pleasure 
in the strong words, as they passed through her memory, 
and then bruised by them. 

' The priest will now release you from the ban and 
censures of the Church, and will so receive you into the 
True Fold. If you do not yourself say the " Confiteor," you 
will do well to repeat in a low voice, with sorrow of heart, 
those words of the penitent in the Gospel : " O God, be 
merciful to me a sinner ! " He will then administer to you 
baptism under condition (sub conditione). . . . Being now 
baptised and received into the Church, you will go and 
kneel in the Confessional or other appointed place in the 
church to make your confession, and to receive from the 
priest the sacramental absolution. While receiving absolu- 
tion you must renew your sorrow and hatred of sin, and 
your resolution to amend, making a sincere Act of 


Then, as the book was dropping from her hand, a few 
paragraphs further on her eyes caught the words : 

' If we are not able to remember the exact number of 
our sins, it is enough to state the probable number to the best 
of our recollection and judgment, saying : " I have com- 
mitted that sin about so many times a day, a week, or a 
month." Indeed, we are bound to reveal our conscience to 
the priest as we know it ourselves, there and then stating 
the things certain as certain, those doubtful as doubtful, 
and the probable number as probable.' 

She threw away the book. She crouched in her chair 
beside Helbeck's table, her small face buried despairingly 
in her hands. ' I can't I can't ! I would if I could 
I can't ! ' 

Through the shiver of an invincible repulsion that held 
her spoke a hundred things things inherited, things 
died for, things wrought out by the moral experience of 
generations. But she could not analyse them. All she 
knew were the two words ' I can't.' 

The little pony took them merrily through the gay 
October woods. Autumn was at its cheerfullest. The 
crisp leaves underfoot, the tonic earth-smells in the air, 
the wet ivy shining in the sun, the growing lightness and 
strength of the trees as the gold or red leaf thinned and the 
free branching of the great oaks or ashes came into sight 
all these belonged to the autumn which sings and 
vibrates, and can in a flash disperse and drive away the 
weeping and melancholy autumn. 

Laura's bloom revived. Her hair, blown about her, 
glowed and shone even amid the gold of the woods. Her 
soft lips, her eyes called back their fire. Helbeck looked 
at her hi a delight mingled with pain, counting the weeks 
silently till she became his very own. Only five now 
before Advent ; and in the fifth the Church would give 


her to him, grudgingly indeed, with scant ceremony and 
festivity, like a mother half grieved, still with her blessing, 
which must content him. And beyond ? The strong 
man stern with himself and his own passion, all the 
more that the adored one was under the protection of his 
roof, and yielded thereby to his sight and wooing more 
freely than a girl in her betrothal is commonly yielded to 
her lover dared hardly in her presence evoke the thrill 
of that thought. Instinctively he knew, through the 
restraints that parted them, that Laura was pure woman, 
a creature ripe for the subtleties and poetries of passion. 
Would not all difficulties find their solvent melt in a 
golden air when once they had passed into the freedom 
and confidence of marriage ? 

Meanwhile the difficulties were all plain to him 
more plain, indeed, than ever. He could not flatter him- 
self that she looked any more kindly on his faith or his 
friends. And his friends or some of them were, to say 
the truth, pressing him hard. Father Leadham even, his 
director, upon whom during the earlier stages of their 
correspondence on the matter Helbeck seemed to have 
impressed his own waiting view with success, had lately 
become more exacting and more peremptory. The Squire 
was uncomfortable at the thought of his impending visit. 
It was hardly wise had better have been deferred. 
Laura's quick, shrinking look when it was announced 
had not been lost upon her lover. Father Leadham 
should be convinced must be convinced that all 
would be imperilled nay, lost by haste. Yet uncon- 
sciously Helbeck himself was wavering was changing 

He had come out, indeed, determined somehow to 
break down the barrier he felt rising between them. But 
it was not easy. They talked for long of the most obvious 
and mundane things. There were salmon in the Greet this 


month, and Helbeck had been waging noble war with 
them in the intervals of much business, with Laura often 
beside him, to join in the madness of the ' rushes ' down 
stream, to watch the fine strength of her lover's wrist, to 
shrink from the gaffing, and to count the spoil. The 
shooting days at Bannisdale were almost done, since the 
land had dwindled to a couple of thousand acres, much of 
it on the moss. But there were still two or three poor 
coverts along the upper edge of the park, where the old 
Irish keeper and woodman, Tim Murphy, cherished and 
counted the few score pheasants that provided a little 
modest November sport. And Helbeck, tying the pony to 
a tree, went up now with Laura to walk round the woods, 
showing in all his comments and calculations a great deal 
of shrewd woodcraft and beastcraft, enough to prove 
at any rate that the Esau of his race feras consumer e 
nati, to borrow the emendation of Mr. Fielding had not 
yet been wholly cast out by the Jacob of a mystical 

Laura tripped and climbed, applauded by his eye, 
helped by his hand. But though her colour came back, 
her spirits were still to seek. She was often silent, and 
he hardly ever spoke to her without feeling a start run 
through the hand he held. 

His grey eye tried to read her, but in vain. At last he 
wooed her from the fellside where they were scrambling. 
' Come down to the river and rest.' 

Hand in hand they descended the steep slope to that 
rock-seat where he had found her on the morning of 
Easter Sunday. The great thorn which overhung it was 
then in bud ; now the berries which covered the tree were 
already reddening to winter. Before her spread the silver 
river, running to lose itself in the rocky bosom of that 
towering scar which closed the distance, whereon, too, all 
the wealth of the woods on either hand converged the 


woods that hid the outer country, and all that was not 
Bannisdale and Helbeck's. 

To-day, however, Laura felt no young passion of 
pleasure in the beauty at her feet. She was ill at ease, and 
her look fled his as he glanced up to her from the turf 
where he had thrown himself. 

1 Do you like me to read your books ? ' she said 
abruptly, her question swooping hawk-like upon his and 
driving it off the field. 

He paused to consider, and to smile. 

' I don't know. I believe you read them perversely ! ' 

'I know what you read this morning. Do you 
do you think St. Francis Borgia was a very admirable 
person ? ' 

' Well, I got a good deal of edification out of him/ 
said Helbeck quietly. 

' Did you ? Would you be like him if you could ? Do 
you remember when his wife was very ill, and he was 
praying for her, he heard a voice do you remember ? ' 

' Go on,' said Helbeck, nodding 

1 And the voice said, " If thou wouldst have the life 
of the Duchess prolonged, it shall be granted ; but 
it is not expedient for thee " " thee," mind not her ! 
When he heard this, he was penetrated by a most tender 
love of God, and burst into tears. Then he asked God to 
do as He pleased with the lives of his wife and his 
children and himself. He gave up I suppose he gave up 
praying for her. She became much worse and died, 
leaving him a widower at the age of thirty-six. After- 
wards don't please interrupt ! in the space of three 
years, he disposed somehow of all his eight children 
some of them I reckoned must be quite babies took the 
vows, became a Jesuit, and went to Borne. Do you 
approve of all that ? ' 

Helbeck reddened. ' It was a time of hard fighting 


for the Church,' he said gravely, after a pause, ' and the 
Jesuits were the advance guard. In such days a man 
may be called by God to special acts and special sacri- 

' So you do approve ? Papa was a member of an 
Ethical Society at Cambridge. They used sometimes to 
discuss special things whether they were right or wrong. 
I wonder what they would have said to St. Francis 
Borgia ? ' 

Helbeck smiled. 

' Mercifully, darling, the ideals of the Catholic Church 
do not depend upon the votes of Ethical Societies ! ' 

He turned his handsome head towards her. His tone 
was perfectly gentle, but behind it she perceived the 
breathing of a contempt before which she first recoiled 
then sprang in revolt. 

' As for me,' she said, panting a little, ' when I finished 
the life this morning in your room, I felt like Ivan in 
Browning's poem do you recollect ? about the mother 
who threw her children one by one to the wolves, to 
save her wretched self ? I would like to have dropped 
the axe on St. Francis Borgia's neck just one little 
clean cut ! while he was saying his prayers, and enjoying 
his burning love, and all the rest of it ! ' 

Helbeck was silent, nor could she see his face, which 
was again turned from her towards the river. The eager, 
feverish voice went on : 

' Do you know, that's the kind of thing you read 
always always day after day ? And it's just the same 
now ! That girl of twenty-three, Augustina was talking of, 
who is going into a convent, and her mother only died 
last year, and there are six younger brothers and sisters, 
and her father says it will break his heart she must 
have been reading about St. Francis Borgia. Perhaps she 
felt " burning love " and had " floods of tears." But 


Ivan with his axe that's the person I'd bring in, if I 
could ' 

Still not a word from the man beside her. She hesi- 
tated a moment felt a sob of excitement in her throat 
bent forward and touched his shoulder. 

' Suppose suppose I were to be ill dying and the 
voice came, " Let her go ! She is in your way ; it would 
be better for you she should die " would you just let 
go ? see me drop, drop, drop, through all eternity, to 
make your soul safe ? ' 

' Laura ! ' cried a strong voice. And, with a spring, 
Helbeck was beside her, capturing both her cold hands in 
one of his, a mingled tenderness and wrath flashing 
'from him before which she shrank. But though she drew 
away from him her small face so white below the broad 
black hat ! she was not quelled. Before he could speak, 
she had said in sharp separate words, hardly above a 
whisper : 

' It is that horrible egotism of religion that poisons 
everything! And if if one shared it, well and good, 
one might make terms with it, like a wild thing one had 
tamed. But outside it, and at war with it, what can 
one do but hate hate hate it ! ' 

' My God ! ' he said, in bewilderment, ' where am I to 
begin ? ' 

He stared at her with a passionate amazement. 
Never before had she shown such forces of personality, 
or been able to express herself with an utterance so 
mature and resonant. Her stature had grown before his 
eyes. In the little frowning figure there was something 
newly, tragically fine. The man for the first time felt his 
match. His own hidden self rose at last to the struggle 
with a kind of angry joy, eager at once to conquer the 
woman and to pierce the sceptic. 

' Listen to me, Laura ! ' he said, bending over her. 


' That was more than I can bear that calls me out of my 
tent. I have tried to keep my poor self out of sight, 
but it has rights. You have challenged it. Will you 
take the consequences ? ' 

She trembled before the pale concentration of his face, 
and bent her head. 

' I will tell you,' he said, in a low determined voice, 
' the only story that a man truly knows the story of his 
own soul. You shall know what you hate.' 

And, after a pause of thought, Helbeck made one of 
the great efforts of his life. 

He did not fully know indeed what it was that he had 
undertaken, till the wave of emotion had gathered through all 
the inmost chambers of memory, and was bearing outward 
in one great tide the secret nobilities, the hidden poetries, 
the unconscious weaknesses of a nature, no less narrow 
than profound, no less full of enmities than of loves. 

But gradually from hurried or broken beginnings the 
narrative rose to clearness and to strength. 

The first impressions of a lonely childhood ; the first 
workings of the family history upon his boyish sense, like 
the faint, perpetual touches of an unseen hand moulding 
the will and the character; the picture of his patient 
mother on her sofa, surrounded with her little religious 
books, twisted and tormented, yet always smiling; his 
early collisions with his morose and half -educated father 
he passed from these to the days of his first Communion, 
the beginnings of the personal life. ' But I had very little 
fervour then, such as many boys feel. I did not doubt 
I would not have shown any disrespect to my religion for 
the world, mostly, I think, from family pride but I felt 
no ardour, and did not pretend any. My mother some- 
times shed tears over it, and was comforted by her old 
confessor so she told me when she was dying who used 


to say to her : " Feeling is good, but obedience is better. 
He obeys ; " for I did all my religious duties without 
difficulty. Then at thirteen I was sent to Stonyhurst. 
And there, after a while, God began His work in me.' 

He paused a moment; and when he resumed, his 
voice shook : 

' Among the masters there was a certain Father Lewin. 
He took an affection for me, and I for him. He was even 
then a dying man, but he accomplished more, and was 
more severe to himself, than any man in health I ever 
knew. So long as he lived, he made the path of religion 
easy to me. He was the supernatural life before my eyes. 
I had only to open them and see. The only difference 
between us was that I began first out of love for him, I 
suppose to have a great wish to become a Jesuit ; whereas 
he was against it he thought there were too many special 
claims upon me here. Then, when I was eighteen, he 
died. I had seen him the day before, when there seemed 
to be no danger, or they concealed it from me. But in 
the night I was called, too late to hear him speak ; he was 
already in his agony. The sight terrified me. I had 
expected something much more consoling more beautiful. 
For a long time I could not shake off the impression, the 
misery of it.' 

He was silent again for a minute. He still held 
Laura's hands close, as though there was something in 
their touch that spurred him on. 

'After his death I got my father's leave to go and 
study at Louvain. I passed there the most wretched 
years of my life. Father Lewin's death had thrown me 
into an extraordinary dejection, which seemed to have 
taken from me all the joy of my faith ; but at Louvain I 
came very near to losing it altogether. It came, I think, 
from the reading of some French sceptical books the first 
year I was there ; but I went through a horror and 


anguish. Often I used to wander for a whole day along 
the Scheldt, or across lonely fields where no one could 
see me, lost in what seemed to me a fight with devils. 
The most horrible blasphemies the most subtle, the 
most venomous thoughts Ah ! well by God's grace, 
I never gave up Confession and Communion at long 
intervals, indeed but still I held to them. The old 
Passionist father, my director, did not understand much 
about me. I seemed, indeed, to have no friends. I lived 
shut up with my own thoughts. The only comfort and 
relief I got was from painting. I loved the studio where 
I worked, poor as my own attempts were. It seemed 
often to be the only thing between me and madness. . . . 
Well, the first relief came in a strange way. I was visiting 
one of the Professors, an old Canon of the Cathedral, on 
a June evening. The Bishop of the See was very ill, and 
while I was with the Canon word came round to summon 
the Chapter to assist at the administration of the last 
Sacraments, and to hear the sick man's Profession of 
Faith. The old Canon had been good to me. I don't 
know whether he suspected what was wrong with me. 
At any rate, he laid a kind hand on my arm. " Come 
with me," he said ; and I went with him into the Bishop's 
residence. I can see the old house now the black 
panelled stairs and passages, and the shadow of the great 
church outside. 

' In the Bishop's room were gathered all the canons 
in their white robes; there was an altar blazing with 
lights, the windows were wide open to the dusk, 
and the cathedral bell was tolling. We all knelt, and 
Monseigneur received the Viaticum. He was fully vested. 
I could just see his venerable white head on the pillow. 
After the Communion one of the canons knelt by him 
and recited the Creed of Pope Pius IV.' 

Laura started. But Helbeck did not notice the 


sudden tremulous movement of the hands lying in his. 
He was sitting rigidly upright, the eyes half closed, his 
mind busy with the past. 

' And as he recited it, the bands that held my own 
heart seemed to break. I had not been able to approach 
any clause of that creed for months without danger of 
blasphemy ; and now it was like a bird escaped from 
the nets. The snare is broken and we are delivered ! 
The dying man raised his voice in a last effort ; he 
repeated the oath with which the Creed ends. The 
Gospels were handed to him ; he kissed them with 
fervour. " Sic me Deus adjuvet, et Sancta Dei Evangelia." 
" So may God help me, and His Holy Gospels ! " I 
joined in the words mentally, overcome with joy. 
Before me, as in a vision, had risen the majesty and 
glory of the Catholic Church ; I felt her foundations once 
more under my feet.' 

He drew a long breath. Then he turned. Laura felt 
his eyes upon her, as though in doubt. She herself 
neither moved nor spoke ; she was all hearing, absorbed in 
a passionate prescience of things more vital yet to come. 

' Laura ! ' his voice dropped ' I want you to know 
it all, to understand me through and through. I will 
try that there shall not be a word to offend you. That 
scene I have described to you was for me only the begin- 
ing of another apostasy. I had no longer the excuse of 
doubt. I believed and trembled. But for two years after 
that, I was every day on the brink of ruining my own 
soul and another's. The first, the only woman I ever 
loved before I saw you, Laura, I loved in defiance of all 
law God's or man's. If she had struggled one heart- 
beat less, if God had let me wander one hair's breadth 
further from His hand, we had both made shipwreck 
hopeless, eternal shipwreck. Laura, my little Laura, am I 
hurting you so ? ' 


She gave a little sob, and mutely, with shut eyes, she 
raised her face towards him. He stooped and very tenderly 
and gravely kissed her cheek. 

' But God's mercy did not fail ! ' he said or rather 
murmured. ' At the last moment that woman God rest 
her soul ! God bless her for ever ! ' 

He took off his hat, and bent forward silently for a 

' She died, Laura, more than ten years ago ! At the 
last moment she saved both herself and me. She sent 
for one of my old Jesuit masters at Stonyhurst, a man 
who had been a great friend of Father Lewin's, and 
happened to be at that moment in Brussels. He came. 
He brought me her last farewell, and he asked me 
to go back with him that evening to join a retreat that 
he was holding in one of the houses of the order near 
Brussels. I went, in a sullen state, stunned and for the 
moment submissive. 

1 But the retreat was agony. I could take part in 
nothing. I neglected the prescribed hours and duties ; it 
was as though my mind could not take them in, and I 
soon saw that I was disturbing others. 

1 One evening I was by myself in the garden at re- 
creation hour the father who was holding the retreat 
came up to me, and sternly asked me to withdraw at once. 
I looked at him. " Will you give me one more day ? " I 
said. He agreed. He seemed touched. I must have 
appeared to him a miserable creature. 

' Next day this same father was conducting a meditation 
on " the condescension of Jesus in the Blessed Sacra- 
ment." I was kneeling, half stupefied, when I heard him 
tell a story of the Cur6 d'Ars. After the procession of 
Corpus Christi, which was very long and fatiguing, some 
one pressed the Cur6 to take food. " I want nothing," he 
said. " How could I be tired ? I was bearing Him who 

A A 


bears me ! " " My brothers," said Father Stuart, turning to 
the altar, " the Lord who bore the sin of the whole world on 
the Cross, who opens the arms of His mercy now to each 
separate sinful soul, is there. He beseeches you by me, 
' Choose, My children, between the world and Me, 
between sin and Me, between Hell and Me. Your souls 
are Mine : I bought them with anguish and tears. Why 
will ye now hold them back from Me wherefore will ye 

' My whole being seemed to be shaken by these words. 
But I instantly thought of Marie. I said to myself, " She 
is alone perhaps in despair. How can I save myself, 
wretched tempter and coward that I am, and leave her in 
remorse and grief ? ' And then it seemed to me as though 
a Voice came from the altar itself, so sweet and penetra- 
ting that it overpowered the voice of the preacher and the 
movements of my companions. I heard nothing in the 
chapel but It alone. " She is saved ! " It said and 
again and again, as though in joy, " She is saved 
saved ! " 

' That night I crept to the foot of the crucifix in my 
little cell. " Elegi, elegi : renuntio ! " " I have chosen : I 
renounce." All night long those alternate words seemed to 
be wrung from me.' 

There was deep silence. Helbeck knelt on the grass 
beside Laura and took her hands afresh. 

' Laura, since that night I have been my Lord's. It 
seemed to me that He had come Himself come from His 
cross to raise two souls from the depths of Hell. Marie 
went into a convent, and died in peace and blessedness ; I 
came home here, to do my duty if I could and save my 
soul. That seems to you a mere selfish bargain with God 
an " egotism " that you hate. But look at the root of 
it. Is the world under sin and has a God died for it ? 
All my nature my intellect, my heart my will, answer 


"Yes." But if a God died, and must die cruelly, hideously, 
at the hands of His creatures to satisfy eternal justice, 
what must that sin be that demands the Crucifixion ? Of 
what revolt, what ruin is not the body capable ? I knew 
for I had gone down into the depths. Is any chastise- 
ment too heavy, any restraint too harsh, if it keep us 
from the sin for which our Lord must die ? And if He 
died, are we not His from the first moment of our birth 
His first of all ? Is it a selfish bargain to yield Him 
what He purchased at such a cost, to take care that our 
just debt to Him is paid so far as our miserable humanity 
can pay it. All these mortifications, and penances, and 
self-denials that you hate so, that make the saints so 
odious in your eyes, spring from two great facts Sin and 
the Crucifixion. But, Laura, are they true ? ' 

He spoke in a low, calm voice, yet Laura knew well 
that his life was poured into each word. She herself did 
not could not speak. But it seemed to her strangely that 
some spring within her was broken some great decision 
had been taken, by whom she could not tell. 

He looked with alarm at her pallor and silence. 

' Laura, those are the hard and awful to us Catholics, 
the majestic facts on which our religion stands. Accept 
them, and nothing else is really difficult. Miracles, the 
protection of the saints, the mysteries of the sacraments, 
the place that Catholics give to Our Lady, the support of 
an infallible Church what so easy and natural if these be 
true ? . . . Sin and its Divine Victim, penance, regulation 
of life, death, judgment Catholic thought moves per- 
petually from one of these ideas to another. As to many 
other thoughts and beliefs, it is free to us as to other men 
to take or leave, to think or not to think. The Church, like 
a tender mother, offers to her children an innumerable 
variety of holy aids, consolations, encouragements. These 
may or may not be of faith. The Crucifix is the Catholic 



Faith. In that the Catholic sees the Love that brought a 
God to die, the Sin that infects his own soul. To requite 
that love, to purge that sin there lies the whole task 
of the Catholic life.' 

He broke off again, anxiously studying the drooping 
face so near to him. Then gently he put his arm round 
her, and drew her to him till her brow rested against his 

'Laura, does it seem very hard very awful to 

She moved imperceptibly, but she did not speak. 

' It may well. The way is strait ! But, Laura, you 
see it from without I from within. Won't you take my 
word for the sweetness, the reward, and the merciful- 
ness of God's dealings with our souls ? ' He drew a long 
agitated breath. ' Take my own case take our love. 
You remember, Laura, when you sat here on Easter 
Sunday ? I came from Communion, and I found you here. 
You disliked and despised my faith and me. But as you 
sat here, I loved you my eyes were first opened. The 
night of the dance, when you went upstairs, I took my 
own heart and offered it. You did not love me then : how 
could I dream you ever would ? The sacrifice was mine : 
I tried to yield it. But it was not His will. I made 
my struggle you made yours. He drew us to each 
other. Then ' 

He faltered, looked down upon her in doubt. 

' Since then, Laura, so many strange things have hap- 
pened ! Who was I that I should teach anybody ? I 
shrank from laying the smallest touch on your freedom. 
I thought, " Gradually, of her own will, she will come 
nearer. The Truth will plead for itself." My duty is to 
trust, and wait. But, Laura, what have I seen in you ? 
Not indifference not contempt never ! But a long 
storm a trouble a conflict that has filled me with con- 


fusion overthrown all my own hopes and plans. Laura, 
my love, my sweet, why does our Faith hurt you so 
much if it means nothing to you ? Is there not already 
some tenderness ' his voice dropped ' behind the scorn ? 
Could it torment you if if it had not gained some 
footing in your heart ? Laura, speak to me ! ' 

She slowly drew away from him. Gently she shook 
her head. Her eyes were full of tears. 

But the strange look of power almost of triumph on 
Helbeck's face remained unaltered. She shrank before it. 

' Laura, you don't know yourself ! But no matter ! 
Only, will you forgive me if you feel a change in me ? Till 
now I have shrunk from fighting you. It seemed to me 
that an ugly habit of words might easily grow up that 
would poison all our future. But now I feel in it some- 
thing more than words. If you challenge, Laura, I shall 
meet it ! If you strike, I shall return it.' 

He took her hands once more. His bright eye looked 
for demanded an answer. Her own personality, for all 
its daring, wavered and fainted before the attacking force 
of his. 

But Helbeck received no assurance of it. She showed 
none of that girlish yielding which would have been so 
natural and so delightful to her lover. Without any 
direct answer to his appeal or his threat, she lifted to him 
a look that was far from easy to read a look of passionate 
sadness and of pure love. Her delicate face seemed to 
float towards him, and her lips breathed. 

1 1 was not worthy you should tell me a word. But 

.' It was some time before she could go on. Then 

she said with sudden haste, the colour rushing back into 
her cheeks, ' It is the most sacred honour that was ever 
done me. I thank thank thank you ! ' 

And with her eyes still fixed upon his countenance, 
and all those deep traces that the last half-hour had left 


upon it, she raised his hand and pressed her soft quiver- 
ing mouth upon it. 

Never had Helbeck been filled with such a tender and 
hopeful joy as in the hours that followed this scene 
between them. Father Leadham arrived in time for 
dinner. Laura treated him with a gentleness, even a 
sweetness, that from the first moment filled the Jesuit with 
a secret astonishment. She was very pale ; her exhaustion 
was evident. 

But Helbeck silenced his sister ; and he surrounded 
Laura with a devotion that had few words, that never 
made her conspicuous, and yet was more than she could 

Augustina insisted on her going to bed early. Helbeck 
went upstairs with her to the first landing, to light her 

Nothing stirred in the old house. Father Leadham 
and Augustina were in the drawing-room. They two 
stood alone among the shadows of the panelling, the 
solitary candle shining on her golden hair and white dress. 

' I have something to say to you, Laura,' said Helbeck 
in a disturbed voice. 

She looked up. 

' I can't save the Eomney, dear. I've tried my very 
best. Will you forgive me ? ' 

She smiled, and put her hand timidly on his shoulder. 

' Ask her, rather ! I know you tried. Good-night.' 

And then suddenly, to his astonishment, she threw 
both her arms round his neck, and, like a child that nestles 
to another in penitence or for protection, she kissed his 
breast passionately, repeatedly. 

' Laura, this can't be borne ! Look up, beloved ! 
Why should my coat be so blessed ? ' he said, half laughing, 
yet deeply moved, as he bent above her. 


She disengaged herself, and, as she mounted the stairs, 
she waved her hand to him. As she passed out of his 
sight she was a vision of gentleness. The woman had 
suddenly blossomed from the girl. When Helbeck de- 
scended the stairs after she had vanished, his heart beat 
with a happiness he had never yet known. 

And she, when she reached her own room, she let 
her arms drop rigidly by her side. ' It would be a crime 
a crime to marry him,' she said, with a dull resolve 
that was beyond weeping. 

Helbeck and Father Leadham sat long together after 
Augustina had retired. There was an argument between 
them in which the Jesuit at last won the victory. Helbeck 
was persuaded to a certain course against his judgment 
to some extent against his conscience. 

Next morning the Squire left Bannisdale early. He 
was to be away two days on important business. Before 
he left he reluctantly told his sister that the Eomney 
would probably be removed before his return by the dealer 
to whom it had been sold.- Laura did not appear at 
breakfast, and Helbeck left a written word of farewell, 
that Augustina delivered. 

Meantime Father Leadham remained as the guest of 
the ladies. In the afternoon he joined Miss Fountain in 
the garden, and they walked up and down the bowling- 
green for some time together. Augustina, in the deep 
window of the drawing-room, was excitedly aware of the 

When the two companions came in, Father Leadham 
after a time rejoined Mrs. Fountain. She looked at him 
with eagerness. But his fine and scholarly face was 
more discomposed than she had ever seen it. And the 
few words that he said to her were more than enough. 

Laura meanwhile went to her own room, and shut 


herself up there. Her cheeks were glowing, her eyes 
angry. ' He promised me ! ' she said, as she sat down to 
her writing-table. 

But she could not stay there. She got up and walked 
restlessly about the room. After half an hour's fruitless 
conversation, Father Leadham had been betrayed into an 
expression hardly that a shade of expression, which 
had set the girl's nature aflame. What it meant was, ' So 
this is your answer to the chivalry of Mr. Helbeck's 
behaviour to the delicacy which could go to such lengths 
in protecting a young lady from her own folly ? ' The 
meaning was conveyed by a look an inflection hardly 
a phrase. But Laura understood it perfectly ; and when 
Father Leadham returned to Mrs. Fountain he guiltily 
knew what he had done, and, being a man in general 
of great tact and finesse, he hardly knew whom to blame 
most, himself, or the girl who had imperceptibly and 
yet deeply provoked him. 

That evening Laura told her stepmother that she 
must go up to London the following day, by the early 
afternoon train, on some shopping business, and would 
stay the night with her friend Molly Friedland. Augus- 
tina fretfully acquiesced ; and the evening was spent 
by Mrs. Fountain at any rate, in trying to console her- 
self by much broken talk of frocks and winter fashions, 
while Laura gave occasional answers, and Father Lead- 
ham on a distant sofa buried himself in the Tablet. 

' Gone ! ' 

The word was Laura's. She had been busy in her 
room, and had come hurriedly downstairs to fetch her 
work-bag from the drawing-room. As she crossed the 
threshold, she saw that the picture had been taken down. 
Indeed, the van containing it was just driving through the 


White and faltering, the girl came up to the wall 
whence the beautiful lady had just been removed, and 
leant her head against it. She raised her hand to her 
eyes. ' Goodbye,' said the inner sense ' Goodbye ! ' 
And the strange link which from the first moment almost 
had seemed to exist between that radiant daughter of 
Bannisdale and herself snapped and fell away, carrying 
how much else with it ! 

About an hour before Laura's departure there was a 
loud knock at her door, and Mrs. Denton appeared. The 
woman was pale with rage. Mrs. Fountain, in much 
trepidation, had just given her notice, and the housekeeper 
had not been slow to guess from what quarter the blow 
had fallen. 

Laura turned round bewildered. But she was too 
late to stop the outbreak. In the course of five minutes' 
violent speech Mrs. Denton wiped out the grievances of 
six months ; she hurled the gossip of a countryside on 
Laura's head; and in her own opinion she finally 
avenged the cause of the Church and of female decorum 
upon the little infidel adventuress that had stolen away 
the wits and conscience of the Squire. 

Miss Fountain, after a first impatient murmur, 'I 
might have remembered ! ' stood without a word, with 
eyes cast down, and a little scornful smile on her colour- 
less lips. When at last she had shut the door on her 
assailant, a great quivering sigh rose from the girl's 
breast. Was it the last touch ? But she said nothing. She 
brushed away a tear that had unconsciously risen, and went 
back to her packing. 

' Just wait a moment ! ' said Miss Fountain to old 
Wilson, who was driving her across the bridge on her 
way to the station. ' I want to get a bunch of those 



berries by the water. Take the pony up the hill. I'll 
join you at the top.' 

Old Wilson drove on. Laura climbed a stile and 
slipped down to the waterside. 

The river, full with autumn rain, came foaming down. 
The leaf was falling fast. Through the woods on the 
further bank she could just distinguish a gable of the old 

A moan broke from her. She stooped and buried her 
face in the grass his grass. 

When she returned to the road, she looked for the 
letter-box in the wall of the bridge, and, walking up to it, 
she dropped into it two letters. Then she stood a 
moment with bent brows. Had she made all arrange- 
ments for Augustina ? 

But she dared not let herself think of the morrow. 
She set her face to the hill trudging steadily up the 
wet, solitary road. Once twice she turned to look. 
Then the high trees that arched over the top of the hill 
received the little form; she disappeared into their 



1 MY dear, where are the girls ? ' 

The speaker was Dr. Friedland, the only intimate 
friend Stephen Fountain had ever made at Cambridge. 
The person addressed was Dr. Priedland's wife. 

On hearing her husband's question, that lady's gentle 
and benevolent countenance emerged from the folds of a 
newspaper. It was the ' first mild day of March,' and 
she and her husband had been enjoying an after-breakfast 
chat in the garden of a Cambridge villa. 

' Molly is arranging the flowers Laura has had a 
long letter from Mrs. Fountain, and is now, I believe, 
gone to answer it.' 

' Then I sha'n't enjoy my lunch,' said Dr. Friedland 

He was an elderly gentleman, with a short beard and 
moustache turning to white, particularly black eyes, 
and a handsome brow. His wife had put a rug over 
his shoulders, and another over his knees, before she 
allowed him the 'Times' and a cigarette. Amid the 
ample folds of these draperies he had a Jove-like and 
benignant air. 

His wife inquired what difference Miss Fountain's 
correspondence would or could make to her host's 


' Because she won't eat any,' said the doctor with a 
sigh, ' and I find it infectious.' 

Mrs. Friedland laid down her newspaper. 

' There is no doubt she is worried about Mrs. 

'E tutti quanti,' said the doctor, humming a tune. 
'My dear, it is surprising what an admiration I find 
myself possessed of for Sir John Pringle.' 

' Sir John Pringle ? ' said the lady in bewilderment. 

' Bozzy, my dear the great Bozzy amid the experi- 
ments of his youth, turned Catholic. His distracted 
relations deputed Sir John Pringle to deal with him. 
That great lawyer pointed out the worldly disadvantages 
of the step. Bozzy pleaded his immortal soul. Where- 
upon Sir John observed with warmth that anyone 
possessing a particle of gentlemanly spirit would sooner 
be damned to all eternity than give his relations so much 
trouble as Bozzy was giving his ! ' 

1 The application is not clear,' said Mrs. Friedland. 

' No,' said the doctor, stretching his legs and puffing 
at his cigarette ; ' but when you speak of Laura, and tell 
me she is writing to Bannisdale, I find a comfort in Sir 
John Pringle.' 

' It would be more to the purpose if Laura did ! ' 
exclaimed Mrs. Friedland. 

The doctor shook his head, and fell into a reverie. 
Presently he asked 

' You think Mrs. Fountain is really worse ? ' 

' Laura is sure of it. And the difficulty is, what is she 
to do ? If she goes to Bannisdale she exiles Mr. Helbeck. 
Yet, if his sister is really in danger, Mr. Helbeck naturally 
will desire to be at home ? ' 

' And they can't meet ? ' 

'Under the same roof and the old conditions? 
Heaven forbid ! ' said Mrs. Friedland. 


' Bisk it ! ' said the doctor, violently slapping his 
fist on the little garden table that held his box of 

' My dear don't be a hypocrite ! You and I know 
well enough what's wrong with that child.' 

' Perhaps.' The lady's eyes filled with tears. ' But 
you forget that by all accounts Mr. Helbeck is an altered 
man. From something Laura said to Molly last week, 
it seems that Mrs. Fountain even is now quite afraid of 
him as she used to be.' 

' If she would only die good lady ! her brother might 
go to his own place,' said the doctor impatiently. 
' To the Jesuits ? ' 
The doctor nodded. 

' Did he actually tell you that was his intention ? ' 
' No. But I guessed. And that Trinity man Leadham, 
who went over, gave me to understand the other day 
what the end would probably be. But not while his 
sister lives.' 

' I should hope not ! ' said Mrs. Friedland. 
After a pause, she turned to her husband 
' John ! you know you liked him ! ' 
4 If you mean by that, my dear, that I showed a 
deplorable weakness in dealing with him, my conscience 
supports you ! ' said the doctor ; ' but I would have you 
remember that for a person of my quiet habits, to have a 
gentleman pale as death in your study, demanding his 
lady-love you knowing all the time that the lady-love is 
upstairs and only one elderly man between them is an 
agitating situation.' 

' Poor Laura ! poor Mr. Helbeck ! ' murmured Mrs. 
Friedland. The agony of the man, the resolution of the 
girl, stood out sharply from the medley of the past. 

' All very well, my dear all very well. Bat you 


showed a pusillanimity on that occasion that I scorn to 
qualify. You were afraid of that child positively afraid 
of her. I could have dealt with her in a twinkling, if 
you'd left her to me.' 

' What would you have said to her ? ' inquired Mrs. 
Friedland gently. 

' How can there be any possible doubt what I should 
have said to her ? ' said the doctor, slapping his knee. 
1 " My dear, you love him ergo, marry him ! " That 
first and foremost. " And as to those other trifles, what 
have you to do with them ? Look over them look round 
them ! Eise, my dear, to your proper dignity and destiny 
have a right and natural pride in the rock that bore 
you ! You, a child of the Greater Church of an Authority 
of which all other authorities are the mere caricature 
why all this humiliation, these misgivings this turmoil ? 
Take a serener take a loftier view ! " Ah ! if I could 
evoke Fountain for one hour ! ' 

The doctor bent forward, his hands hanging over his 
knees, his lips moving without sound, under the sentences 
his brain was forming. This habit of silent rhetoric 
represented a curious compromise between a natural 
impetuosity of temperament, and the caution of scientific 
research. His wife watched him with a loving, half- 
amused eye. 

' And what, pray, could Mr. Fountain do, John, but 
make matters ten times worse ? ' 

' Do ! who wants him to do anything ? But ten years 
ago he might have done something. Listen to me, Jane ! ' 
He seized his wife's arm. ' He makes Laura a child of 
Knowledge, a child of Freedom, a child of Eevolution 
without an ounce of training to fit her for the part. It is 
like an heir flung to the gipsies. Then you put her to 
the test sorely conspicuously. And she stands fast 
she does not yield it is not in her blood, scarcely in her 


power to yield. But it is a blind instinct, carried through 
at what a cost ! You might have equipped and fortified 
her. You did neither. You trusted everything to the 
passionate loyalty of the woman. And it does not fail 
you. But ! ' 

The doctor shook his head, long and slowly. Mrs. 
Friedland quietly replaced the rugs which had gone 
wandering, in the energy of these remarks. 

' You see, Jane, if it's true " ne croit qui veut " it's 
still more true, " ne doute qui veut " ! To doubt doubt 
wholesomely, cheerfully, fruitfully why, my dear, there's 
no harder task in the world ! And a woman, who thinks 
with her heart ? who can't stand on her own feet as a 
man can you remove her from all her normal shelters 
and supports you expect her to fling a " No ! " in the face 
of half her natural friends and then you are too indolent 
or too fastidious to train the poor child for her work ! 
Fountain took Laura out of her generation, and 
gave her nothing in return. Did he read with her 
share his mind with her ? Never ! He was indolent ; 
she was wilful ; so the thing slid. But all the time he 
made a partisan of her he expected her to echo his hates 
and his prejudice he stamped himself and his cause deep 
into her affections 

' And then, my dear, she must needs fall in love with 
this man, this Catholic ! Catholicism at its best worse 
luck ! No mean or puerile type, with all its fetichisms 
and unreasons on its head no ! a type sprung from the 
best English blood, disciplined by heroic memories, by the 
persecution and hardships of the Penal Laws. What 
happens? Why, of course the girl's imagination goes 
over! Her father in her her temperament stand in 
the way of anything more. But where is she to look for 
self-respect, for peace of mind? She feels herself an 
infidel a moral outcast. She trembles before th'e claims 


of this great visible system. Her reason refuses them 
but why ? She cannot tell. For Heaven's sake, why do 
we leave our children's minds empty like this ? If you 
believe, my good friend, Educate! And if you doubt, 
still more Educate ! Educate ! ' 

The doctor rose in his might, tossed his rugs from him 
and began to pace a sheltered path, leaning on his wife's 

Mrs. Friedland looked at him slyly, and laughed. 

' So if Laura had been learned, she might have been 
happy? John ! what a paradox ! ' 

' Not mine then ! but the Almighty's who seems to 
have included a mind in this odd bundle that makes 
up Laura. What ! You set a woman to fight for ideas, and 
then deny her all knowledge of what they mean. Happy ! 
Of course she might have been happy. She might have 
made her Catholic respect her. He offered her terms 
she might have accepted them with a free and equal 
mind. There would have been none, any way, of this 
moral doubt this bogeyfication of things she don't 
understand! Ah! here she comes. Now just look at 
her, Jane ! What's your housekeeping after ? She's lost 
half a stone this month if she's lost an ounce.' 

And the doctor standing still, peered discontentedly 
through his spectacles at the advancing figure. 

Laura approached slowly with her hands behind her, 
looking on her way at the daffodils and tulips just opening 
in the garden border. 

' Pater ! Molly says you and Mater are to come in. 
It's March and not May, you'll please to remember.' 

She came up to them with the airs of a daughter, put 
a flower in Mrs. Friedland's dress ran for one of the 
discarded rugs, and draped it again round the doctor's 
ample shoulders. Her manner to the two elderly folk 
was much softer and freer than it had ever been in the 


days of her old acquaintance with them. A wistful grati- 
tude played through it, revealing a new Laura a Laura 
that had passed, in these five months, through deep waters, 
and had been forced, in spite of pride, to throw herself 
upon the friendly and saving hands held out to her. 

They on their side looked at her with a tender concern, 
which tried to disguise itself in chat. The doctor hooked 
his arm through hers, and made her examine the 

1 Look at these Lent lilies, Miss Laura. They will be 
out in two days at most.' 

Laura bent over them, then suddenly drew herself 
erect. The doctor felt the stiffening of the little arm. 

' I suppose you had sheets of them in the north,' he 
said innocently, as he poked a stone away from the head of 
an emerging hyacinth. 

1 Yes a great many.' She looked absently straight 
before her, taking no more notice of the flowers. 

' Well and Mrs. Fountain ? Are you really anxious ? ' 

The girl hesitated. 

1 She is ill quite ill. I ought to see her somehow.' 

' Well, my dear, go ! ' He looked round upon her 
with a cheerful decision. 

'No that isn't possible,' she said quietly. 'But I 
might stay somewhere near. She must have lost a great 
deal of strength since Christmas.' 

At Christmas and for some time afterwards, she and 
Mrs. Fountain had been at St. Leonard's together. In 
fact, it was little more than a fortnight since Laura 
had parted from her stepmother, who had shown a 
piteous unwillingness to go back alone to Bannis- 

The garden door opened and shut; a white-capped 
servant came along the path. A gentleman for Miss 



1 For me ? ' The girl's cheek flushed involuntarily. 
' Why, Pater who is it ? ' 

For behind the servant came the gentleman a tall 
and comely youth, with narrow blue eyes, a square chin, 
and a very conscious smile. He was well dressed in a 
dark serge suit, and showed a great deal of white cuff, and 
a conspicuous watch chain as he took off his hat. 

' Hubert ! ' 

Laura advanced to him, with a face of astonishment, 
and held out her hand. 

Mason greeted her with a mixture of confusion and 
assurance, glancing behind her at the Friedlands all the 
time. ' Well, I was here on some business and I 
thought I'd look you up, don't you know ? ' 

' My cousin, Hubert Mason,' said Laura, turning to 
the old people. 

Friedland lifted his wide-awake. Mrs. Friedland, 
whose gentle face could be all criticism, eyed him quietly, 
and shook hands perfunctorily. A few nothings passed 
on the weather and the spring. Suddenly Mason said 

' Would you take a walk with me, Miss Laura ? ' 

After a momentary hesitation, she assented, and went 
into the house for her walking things. Mason hurriedly 
approached the doctor 

' Why, she looks she looks as if you could blow her 
away ! ' he cried, staring into the doctor's face, while his 
own flushed. 

' Miss Fountain's health has not been strong this 
winter,' said the doctor gravely, his spectacled eyes 
travelling up and down Mason's tall figure. ' You, I 
suppose, became acquainted with her in Westmoreland ? ' 

' Acquainted with her ! ' The young man checked 
himself, flushed still redder, then resumed. ' Well, we're 
cousins, you see though of course I don't mean to say 
that we're her sort you understand ? ' 


' Miss Fountain is ready,' said Mrs. Friedland. 

Mason looked round, saw the little figure in the door- 
way, and hastily saluting the Friedlands, he took his 

' My dear,' said the doctor anxiously, laying hold on 
his wife's arm, ' should we have asked him to lunch ? ' 

His wife smiled. 

' By no means. That's Laura's business.' 

' Well, but, Jane Jane ! had you realised that young 
man ?' 

' Oh dear, yes/ said Mrs. Friedland. ' Don't excite 
yourself, John.' 

4 Laura gone out with a young man,' said the 
doctor, musing. ' I have been waiting for that all the 
winter and he's extremely good-looking, Jane.' 

Mrs. Friedland lost patience. 

1 John ! I really can't talk to you, if you're as dense as 

' Talk to me ! ' cried the doctor ' why, you unreason- 
able woman, you haven't vouchsafed me a single word ! ' 

' Well, and why should I ? ' said Mrs. Friedland, 

Half an hour passed away. Mason and Laura were 
sitting in the garden of Trinity. 

Up till now, Laura had no very clear idea of what 
they had been talking about. Mason, it appeared, had 
been granted three days' holiday by his employers, and 
had made use of it to come to Cambridge and present a 
letter of introduction from his old teacher, Castle, the 
Whinthorpe organist, to a famous Cambridge musician. 
But, at first, he was far more anxious to discuss Laura's 
affairs than to explain his own ; and Laura had found it 
no easy matter to keep him at arm's length. For nine 
months, Mason had brooded, gossipped, and excused him- 

B B 2 


self ; now, conscious of being somehow a fine fellow again, 
he had come boldly to play the cousin perhaps something 
more. He offered now a few words of stammering 
apology on the subject of his letter to Laura after the 
announcement of her engagement. She received them in 
silence ; and the matter dropped. 

As to his moral recovery, and material prospects, his 
manners and appearance were enough. A fledgeling 
ambition, conscious of new aims and chances, revealed 
itself in all he said. The turbid elements in the character 
were settling down ; the permanent lines of it, strong, 
vulgar, self-complacent, emerged. 

Here, indeed, was a successful man in the making. 
Once or twice the girl's beautiful eyes opened suddenly, 
and then sank again. Before her rose the rocky chasm of 
the Greet ; the sound of the water was in her ears the 
boyish tones of remorse, or entreaty. 

'And you know I'll make some money out of my 
songs before long see if I don't ! I took some of em to 
the Professor this morning and, my word, didn't he like 
em ! Why, I couldn't repeat the things he said you'd 
think I was bluffing ! ' 

Strange gift ! * settling unaware ' on this rude 
nature and poor intelligence ! But Laura looked up 
eagerly. Here she softened ; here was the bridge between 
them. And when he spoke of his new friend, the young 
musical apostle who had reclaimed him, there was a note 
which pleased her. She began to smile upon him more 
freely ; the sadness of her little face grew sweet. 

And suddenly the young man stopped and looked at 
her. He reddened; and she flushed too, not knowing 

' Well, that's where 'tis,' he said, moving towards her 
on the seat. ' I'm going to get on. I told you I was, 
long ago, and it's come true. My salary'll be a 


decent figure before this year's out, and I'm certain I'll 
make something out of the songs. Then there's my 
share of the farm. Mother don't give me more than 
she's obliged ; but it's a tidy bit sometimes. Laura ! 
look here ! I know there's nothing in the way now. You 
were a plucky girl, you were, to throw that up. I always 
said so I didn't care what people thought. Well, but 
now you're free and I'm a better sort won't you give 
a fellow a chance ? ' 

Midway, his new self-confidence left him. She sat 
there, so silent, so delicately white ! He had but to put 
out his hand to grasp her ; and he dared not move a 
finger. He stared at her breathless and open-mouthed. 

But she did not take it tragically at all. After a 
moment, she began to laugh, and shook her head. 

' Do you mean that you want me to marry you, 
Hubert ? Oh ! you'd so soon be tired of that ! You 
don't know anything about me, really we shouldn't suit 
each other at all.' 

His face fell. He drew sullenly away from her, and 
bending forward, began to poke at the grass with his stick. 

' I see how 'tis. I'm not good enough for you and I 
don't suppose I ever shall be.' 

She looked at him with a smiling compassion. 

' I'm not in love with you, Mr. Hubert that's all.' 

' No you've never got over them things that happened 
up at Whinthorpe,' he said roughly. ' I've got a bone 
to pick with you though. Why did you give me the slip 
that night ? ' 

He looked up. But in spite of his bravado, he red- 
dened again, deeply. 

' Well you hadn't exactly commended yourself as 
an escort, had you ? ' she said lightly. But her tone 

' I hadn't had a drop of anything,' he declared hotly ; 


1 and I'd have looked after you, and stopped a deal of 
gossip. You hurt my feelings pretty badly, I can tell 

' Did I ? Well, as you hurt mine on the first occasion, 
let's cry quits.' 

He was silent for a little, throwing furtive glances at 
her from time to time. She was wonderfully thin and 
fragile, but wonderfully pretty, as she sat there under the 

At last he said, with a grumbling note 

' I wish you wouldn't look so thin and dowie-like, as 
we say up at home you've no cause to fret, I'm sure.' 

The temper of twenty-one gave way. Laura sat up 
nay rose. 

' Will you please come and look at the sights ? or 
shall I go home ? ' 

He looked up at her flashing face, and stuck to his 

' I say Miss Laura you don't know how you bowl 
a fellow over ! ' 

The expression of his handsome countenance so 
childish still through all its athlete's force propitiated 
her. And yet she felt instinctively that his fancy for her 
no longer went so deep as it had once done. 

Well ! she was glad ; of course she was glad. 

' Oh ! you're not so very much to be pitied,' she said ; 
but her hand lighted a moment kindly and shyly on the 
young man's arm. ' Now, if you wouldn't talk about 
these things, Hubert do you know what I should be 
doing ? I should be asking you to do me a service.' 

His manner changed became businesslike and 
mannish at once. 

1 Then you'll please sit down again and tell me what 
it is,' he said. 

She obeyed. He crossed his knees, and listened. 


But she had some difficulty in putting it. At last she 
said, looking away from him 

' Do you think, if I proposed it, your mother could 
bear to have me on a visit to the farm ? ' 

' Mother ! you ! ' he said in astonishment. A hundred 
notions blazed up in his mind. What on earth did she 
want to be in those parts again for ? 

'My stepmother is very unwell,' she said hurriedly. 
' It well, it troubles me not to see her. But I can't go 
to Bannisdale. If your mother doesn't hate me now, as 
she did last summer perhaps she and Polly would take 
me in for a while ? ' 

He frowned over it taking the airs of the relative and 
the counsellor. 

' Mother didn't say much well about your affair. 
But Polly says she's never spoken again you since. But 
I expect you know what she'd be afraid of ? ' 

He nodded sagaciously. 

'I can't imagine,' said Laura, instantly. But the 
stiffening of her slight frame betrayed her. 

' Why, of course Miss Laura you see she'd be afraid 
of its coming on again.' 

There was silence. The broad rim of Laura's velvet 
hat hid her face. Hubert began to be uncomfortable. 

1 1 don't say as she'd have cause to,' he said slowly ; 
' but ' 

Laura suddenly laughed, and Mason opened his eyes 
in astonishment. Such a strange little dry sound ! 

' Of course, if your mother were to think such things 
and to say them to me every time I went to Bannisdale, 
I couldn't stay. But I want to see Augustina very, very 
much.' Her voice wavered. ' And I could easily go to 
her if I were close by when she was alone. And of 
course I should be no expense. Your mother knows I 
have my own money.' 


Hubert nodded. He was trying hard to read her face, 
but what the deuce made girls so close? His coun- 
tenance brightened however. 

1 All right. I'll see to it I'll manage it you wait.' 

' Ah ! but stop a minute.' Her smile shone out from 
the shadow of the hat. ' If I go there's a condition. While 
I'm there, you mustn't come.' 

The young fellow flung away from her with a passion- 
ate exclamation, and her smile dropped lost itself in a 
sweet distress, unlike the old wild Laura. 

' I seem to be falling out with you all the time,' she 
said in haste ' and I don't want to a bit ! But indeed 
it will be much better. You see, if you were to be coming 
over to pay visits to me you would think it your duty to 
make love to me ! ' 

' Well and if I did ? ' he said fiercely. 

'It would only put off the time of our making real 
friends. And and I do care very much for papa's people.' 

The tears leapt to her eyes for the first time. She 
held out her ungloved hand. 

Eeluctantly, and without looking at her, he took it. 
The touch of it roused a tempest in him. He crushed it 
and threw it away from him. 

' Oh ! if you'd never seen that man ! ' he groaned. 

She got up without a word, and presently they were 
walking through the ' backs,' and she was gradually 
taming and appeasing him. By the time they reached 
the street gate of King's, he was again in the full-tide 
of musical talk and boasting, quite aware besides that his 
good looks and his magnificent physique drew the atten- 
tion of the passers-by. 

' Why, they're a poor lot these 'Varsity men ! ' he 
said once contemptuously, as they passed a group of 
rather weedy undergraduates ' I could throw ten of em 
at one go ! ' 


And perpetually he talked of money, the cost of his 
lodgings, of his railway fare, the swindling ways of 
the south. After all, the painful habits of generations 
had not run to waste ; the mother began to show in the 

In the street they parted. As he was saying good-bye 
to her, his look suddenly changed. 

' I say ! that's tha girl I travelled down with yesterday ! 
And, by Jove ! she knew me ! ' 

And with a last nod to Laura, he darted after a tall 
woman who had thrown him a glance from the further 
pavement. Laura recognised the smart and buxom 
daughter of a Cambridge tradesman, a young lady whose 
hair, shoulders, millinery, and repartees were all equally 

Miss Fountain smiled, and turned away. But in the 
act of doing so, she came to a sudden stop. A face had 
arrested her she stood bewildered. 

A man walking in the road came towards her. 

' I see that you recognise me, Miss Fountain 1 ' 

The ambiguous voice the dark, delicate face the 
clumsy gait she knew them all. But she stared in utter 
astonishment. The man who addressed her wore a short 
round coat and soft hat ; a new beard covered his chin ; 
his flannel shirt was loosely tied at the throat by a silk 
handkerchief. And over all the same air of personal 
slovenliness, and ill-breeding 

' You didn't expect to see me in this dress, Miss 
Fountain ? Let me walk a few steps with you, if I may. 
You perhaps hadn't heard that I had left the Jesuits 
and ceased indeed to be a Catholic.' 

Her mind whirled, as she recognised the scholastic. She 
saw the study at Bannisdale and Helbeck bending over 


' No, indeed I had not heard,' she stammered, as they 
walked on. ' Was it long ago ? ' 

' Only a couple of months. The crisis came in 

January ' 

And he broke out into a flood of autobiography. 
Already at Bannisdale he had been in confusion of mind 
the voices of art and liberty calling to him each hour 
more loudly his loyalty to Helbeck, to his boyish ideals, 
to his Jesuit training, holding him back. 

' I believe, Miss Fountain ' the colour rushed into 
his womanish cheek ' you overheard us that evening 
you know what I owe to that admirable, that extraordinary 
man. May I be frank? We have both been through 
deep waters ! ' 

The girl's face grew rigid. Involuntarily she put a wider 
space between herself and him. But he did not notice. 

' It will be no news to you, Miss Fountain, that Mr. 
Helbeck's engagement troubled his Catholic friends. 
I chose to take it morbidly to heart I ventured that 
that most presumptuous attack upon him.' He 
laughed, with an affected note that made her think 
him odious. ' But you were soon avenged. You little 
know, Miss Fountain, what an influence your presence at 
Bannisdale had upon me. It well ! it was like a rebel 
army, perpetually there, to help to support, the rebel in 
myself. I saw the struggle the protest in you. My own 
grew fiercer. Oh ! those days of painting ! and always 
the stabbing thought, never again ! I must confess even 
the passionate delight this has given me the irreligious 
ideas it has excited. All my religious habits lost 
power I could not meditate I was always thinking of 
the problem of my work. Clearly I must never touch a 
brush again. For I was very soon to take orders then to 
go out to missionary work. Well, I put the painting aside 
I trampled on myself I went to see my father and sister, 


and rejoiced in the humiliations they put upon me. Mr. 
Helbeck was all kindness, but he was naturally the last 
person I could confide in. Then, Miss Fountain, I went 
back, back to the Jesuit routine ' 

He paused, looking instinctively for a glance from her. 
But she gave him none. 

' And in three weeks it broke down under me for ever. 
I gave it up. I am a free man. Of the wrench I say 
nothing.' He drew himself up with a shudder, which 
seemed to her theatrical. ' There are sufferings one must 
not talk of. The Society have not been ungenerous. 
They actually gave me a little money. But, of course, 
for all my Catholic friends it is like death. They know 
me no more.' 

Then for the first time his companion turned towards 
him. Her eyelids lifted. Her lips framed rather than 
spoke the words ' Mr. Helbeck ? ' 

' Ah ! Mr. Helbeck I am not mistaken, Miss Foun- 
tain, in thinking that I may now speak of Mr. Helbeck 
with more freedom ? ' 

' My engagement with Mr. Helbeck is broken off,' she 
said coldly. ' But you were saying something of your- 

A momentary expression of dislike and disappoint- 
ment crossed his face. He was of a soft sensuous tem- 
perament, and had expected a good deal of sympathy 
from Miss Fountain. 

' Mr. Helbeck has done what all of us might expect,' 
he said, not without a betraying sharpness. 'He has 
cast me off in the sternest way. Henceforth he knows 
me no more. Bannisdale is closed to me. But, indeed, 
the news from that quarter fills me with alarm.' 

Laura looked up again eagerly, involuntarily. 

' Mr. Helbeck, by all accounts, grows more and more 
extreme more and more solitary. But of course your 


stepmother will have kept you informed. It was always 
to be foreseen. What was once a beautiful devotion, has 
become, with years and, I suppose, opposition a stern 
unbending passion may one not say, a gloomy bigotry ? ' 

He sighed delicately. Through the girl's stormy 
sense there ran a dumb rush of thoughts ' Insolent ! un- 
grateful ! He wounds the heart that loved him and then 
dares to discuss to blame ! ' 

But before she could find something to say aloud, her 
companion resumed. 

'But I must not complain. I was honoured by a 
superior man's friendship. He has withdrawn it. He has 
the right. Now I must look to the future. You will, I 
think, be glad to hear that I am not in that destitute con- 
dition which generally awaits the Catholic deserter. My 
prospects indeed seem to be secured.' 

And with a vanity which did not escape her, he de- 
scribed the overtures that had been made to him by the 
editor of a periodical which was to represent ' the new 
mystical school ' he spoke familiarly of great artists, and 
especially French ones, murdering the French names in a 
way that at once hurt the girl's ears, and pleased her secret 
spite against him he threw in a critic or two without the 
Mr. and he casually mentioned a few lords as persons 
on whom genius and necessity could rely. 

All this in a confidential and appealing tone, which he 
no doubt imagined to be most suitable to women, especially 
young women. Laura thought it impertinent and unbe- 
coming, and longed to be rid of him. At last the turning 
to the Friedlands' house appeared. She stood still, and 
stiffly wished him good-bye. 

But he retained her hand and pressed it ardently 

' Oh ! Miss Fountain we have both suffered ! ' 

The girl could hardly pacify herself enough to go in. 


Again and again she found a pleasure in those words of 
her French novel that she had repeated to Helbeck long 
ago : ' Imagination fausse et troubUe fausse et troubUe.' 

No delicacy no modesty no compunction ! Her own 
poor heart flew to Bannisdale. She thought of all that 
the Squire had suffered in this man's cause. Outrage 
popular hatred her own protests and petulances : all 
met with so unbending a dignity, so inviolable a fidelity, 
both to his friend and to his church ! She recalled that 
scarred brow that kind and brotherly affection that 
passionate sympathy which had made the heir of one of 
the most ancient names in England the intimate counsellor 
and protector of the wheelwright's son. 

Popinjay ! renegade ! to come to her talking of 
' bigotry ' without a breath of true tenderness or natural 
remorse. Williams had done that which she had angrily 
maintained in that bygone debate with Helbeck he had 
every right to do. And she had nothing but condemna- 
tion. She walked up and down the shady road, her eyes 
blinded with tears. One more blow upon the heart that 
she herself had smitten so hard ! Sympathy for this new 
pain took her back to every incident of the old to every 
detail of that hideous week which had followed upon her 

How had she lived through it ? Those letters that 
distant voice in Dr. Friedland's study her own piteous 

For the thousandth time, with the old dreary convic- 
tion, she said to herself that she had done right terribly, 
incredibly right. 

But all the while, she seemed to be sitting beside him 
in his study laying her cheek upon his hand eagerly 
comforting him for this last sorrow. His inexorable breach 
with Williams well ! it was part of his character she 
would not have it otherwise. All that had angered her 


as imagination, was now natural and dignified as reality. 
Her thoughts proudly defended it. Let him be rigorous 
towards others if he pleased he had been first king and 
master of himself. 

Next day Molly Friedland and Laura went to London 
for the day. Laura was taking music-lessons, as one 
means of driving time a little quicker; and there was 
shopping to be done both for the household and for them- 

In the afternoon, as the girls were in Sloane Street 
together, Laura suddenly asked Molly to meet her in an 
hour at a friend's house, where they were to have tea. 
' I have something I want to do by myself.' Molly asked 
no questions, and they parted. 

A few minutes later, Laura stepped into the church of 
the Brompton Oratory. It was a Saturday afternoon, and 
Benediction was about to begin. 

She drew down her thick veil, and took a seat near the- 
door. The great heavy church was still nearly dark, save 
for a dim light in the sanctuary. But it was slowly 
filling with people, and she watched the congregation. 

In front of her was a stout and fashionably dressed 
young man with an eyeglass and stick evidently a 
stranger. He sat stolid and motionless, one knee crossed 
over the other, scrutinising everything that went on as 
though he had been at the play. Presently, a great many 
men began to stream in, most of them bald and grey, but 
some young fellows, who dropped eagerly on their knees 
as they entered, and rose reluctantly. Nuns in black 
hoods and habits would come briskly up, kneel and say a 
prayer, then go out again. Or sometimes they brought 
schools girls, two and two and ranged them decorously 
for the service. An elderly man, of the workman class, 
appeared with his small son, and sat in front of Laura. 


The child played tricks ; the man drew it tenderly within 
his arm, and kept it quiet, while he himself told his beads. 
Then a girl with wild eyes and touzled hair, probably 
Irish, with her baby in her arms, sat down at the end of 
Laura's seat, stared round her for a few minutes, dropped 
to the altar, and went away. And all the time smartly 
dressed ladies came and went incessantly, knelt at side 
altars, crossed themselves, said a few rapid prayers, or 
disappeared into the mysteries of side aisles behind 
screens and barriers going no doubt to confession. 

There was an extraordinary life in it all. Here was 
no languid acceptance of a respectable habit. Something 
was eagerly wanted diligently sought. 

Laura looked round her, with a sigh from her inmost 
heart. But the vast church seemed to her ugly and in- 
human. She remembered a saying of her father's as to 
its ' vicious Roman style ' the ' tomb of the Italian 

What matter ? 

Ah ! Suddenly a dim surpliced figure in the distance, 
and lights springing like stars in the apse. Presently 
the high altar, in a soft glow, shone out upon the dark 
church. All was still silent ; the sanctuary spoke in 

For a few minutes. Then this exquisite and magical 
effect broke up. The lighting spread through the church, 
became commonplace, showed the pompous lines of 
capital and cornice, the bad sculpture in the niches. A 
procession entered, and the service began. 

Laura dropped on her knees. But she was no longer 
in London, in the Oratory church. She was far away, in 
the chapel of an old northern house, where the walls 
glowed with strange figures, and a dark crucifix hovered 
austerely above the altar. She saw the small scattered 
congregation ; Father Bowles's grey head and blanched, 


weak face; Augustina in her long widow's veil; the 
Squire in his corner. The same words were being said 
there now, at this same hour. She looked at her 
watch, then hid her eyes again, tortured with a sick 

But when she came out, twenty minutes later, her 
step was more alert. For a little while, she had been 
almost happy. 

That night, after the returned travellers had finished 
their supper, the doctor was in a talking mood. He had 
an old friend with him, a thinker and historian like him- 
self. Both of them had lately come across ' Leadham of 
Trinity ' the convert and Jesuit, who was now engaged 
upon an important Catholic memoir, and was settled for 
a time within reach of Cambridge libraries. 

'You knew Father Leadham in the north, Miss 
Laura?' asked the doctor, as the girls came into the 

Laura started. 

' I saw him two or three times,' she said, as she made 
her way to the warm but dark corner near the fire. ' la 
he in Cambridge ? ' 

The doctor nodded. 

'Come to embrace us all breathing benediction on 
learning and on science ! There has been a Catholic 
Congress somewhere ' He looked at his friend. ' That 
will show us the way ! ' 

The friend a small lively-eyed, black-bearded man, 
just returned from some theological work in a German 
university threw back his head and laughed good- 

The talk turned on Catholic learning, old and new ; 
on the assumptions and limitations of it ; on the forms 
taken by the most recent Catholic Apologetic ; and so 


like a vessel descending a great river, passed out at last, 
steered by Friedland, among the breakers of first 

As a rule the doctor talked in paradox and ellipse. 
He threw his sentences into air, and let them find their 
feet as they could. 

But to-day, unconsciously, his talk took a tone that 
was rare with him became prophetical, pontifical 
assumed a note of unction. And often, as Molly noticed, 
with a slight instinctive gesture a fatherly turning 
towards that golden spot made by Laura's hair among 
the shadows. 

His friend fell silent after a while watching Fried- 
land with small sharp eyes. He had come there to 
discuss a new edition of Sidonius Apollinaris, was 
himself one of the driest and acutest of investigators. 
All this talk for babes seemed to him the merest waste of 

Friedland however, with a curious feeling, let himself 
be carried away by it. 

A little Catholic manual of Church history had fallen 
into his hands that morning. His fingers played with 
it as it lay on the table ; and with the pages of a maga- 
zine beside it that contained an article by Father 

No doubt some common element in the two had 
roused him. 

' The Catholic war with history,' he said, ' is 
perennial ! History, in fact, is the great rationalist ; and 
the Catholic conscience is scandalised by her. And so 
we have these pitiful little books ' he laid his hand on the 
volume beside him ' which simply expunge history, or 
make it afresh. And we have a piece of Jesuit apologia, 
like this paper of Leadham's so charming, in a sense, so 
scholarly 1 And yet one feels through it a cry of the soul 

c c 


the Catholic arraignment of history, that she is what 
she is ! ' 

'You'll find it in Newman- -of ten,' said the black- 
bearded man, suddenly and he ran through a list of 
passages, rapidly, in the student's way. 

1 Ah ! Newman ! ' said Friedland with vivacity. ' This 
morning I read over that sermon of his he delivered 
to the Oscott Synod, after the re-establishment of the 
Hierarchy you remember it, Dalton ? What a flow and 
thunder in the sentences ! what an elevation in the 
thought ! Who would not rather lament with Newman, 
than exult with Froude ? But here again, it is history that 
is the rationalist not we poor historians ! 

' . . . Why was England lost to the Church ? Because 
Henry was a villain ? because the Tudor bishops were 
slaves and poltroons? Does Leadham, or any other 
rational man really think so ? ' 

The little black man nodded. He did not think it 
worth while to speak. 

But Friedland went on enlarging, with his hand on his 
Molly's head looking into her quiet eyes. 

' . . . The fact is, the Catholic, who is in love with his 
Church, cannot let himself realise truly what the Eome of 
the Eenaissance meant. But turn your back on all the 
Protestant crew even on Erasmus. Ask only those 
Catholic witnesses who were at the fountain-head, who 
saw the truth face to face. And then ponder a little, 
what it was that really happened in those forty-five years 
of Elizabeth. . . . 

' Can Leadham, can any one deny that the nation rose 
in them to the full stature of its manhood to a buoyant 
and fruitful maturity ? And more if it had not been for 
some profound movement of the national life, some 
irresistible revolt of the common intelligence, the common 
conscience does any one suppose that the whims and 


violences of any trumpery king could have broken the 
links with Home ? that such a life and death as More's 
could have fallen barren on English hearts ? Never ! 
How shallow are all the official explanations how deep 
down lies the truth ! ' 

Out of the monologues that followed, broken often by 
the impatience or the eagerness of Dalton, Molly at least, 
who worked much with her father, remembered fragments 
like the following. 

' . . . The figure of the Church, spouse or captive, 
bride or martyr as she has become personified in 
Catholic imagination, is surely among the greatest, the 
most ravishing of human conceptions. It ranks with the 
image of " Jahve's Servant " in the poetry of Israel. And 
yet behind her, as she moves through history, the modern 
sees the rising of something more majestic still the free 
human spirit, in its contact with the infinite sources of 
things ! the Jerusalem which is the mother of us all the 
Greater, the Diviner Church. . . . Into her Ursula-robe 
all lesser forms are gathered. But she is not only a 
maternal, a generative power she is chastisement and 

1 ... Look back again to that great rising of the North 
against the South, that we call the Eeformation. Catho- 
licism of course is saved with the rest. One may almost 
say that Newman's own type is made possible all that 
touches and charms us in English Catholics has its birth, 
because York, Canterbury and Salisbury are lost to the 

' And abroad ? I always find a sombre fascination in 
the spectacle of the Tridentine reform. The Church in 
her stern repentance breaks all her toys, burns all het 
books ! She shakes herself free from Guicciardini's 
" herd of wretches." She shuts her gates on the know- 
ledge and the freedom that have rent her and within her 



strengthened walls she sits, pondering on judgment to 
come. In so far as her submission is incomplete she is 
raising new reckonings against herself every hour. But 
for the moment the moralising influence of the lay 
intelligence has saved her a new strength flows through 
her old veins. 

' . . . And so with scholarship. The great fabric of 
Gallican and Benedictine learning rises into being; under 
the hammer blows of a hostile research. The Catholics 
of Germany, says Eenan, are particularly distinguished 
for acuteness and breadth of ideas. Why ? Because of 
the " perpetual contact of Protestant criticism." 

' . . . More and more we shall come to see that it is 
the World that is the salt of the Church ! She owes far 
more to her enemies than to any of her canonised saints. 
One may almost say that she lives on what the World 
can spare her of its virtues.' 

Laura, in her dark corner, had almost disappeared 
from sight. Molly, the soft, round-faced, spectacled 
Molly, turned now and then from her friend to her father. 
She would give Friedland sometimes a gentle restraining 
touch her lips shaped themselves, as though she said, 
1 Take care ! ' 

And gradually Friedland fell upon things more inti- 
mate the old topics of the relation between Catholicism 
and the will, Catholicism and conscience. 

' . . . I often think we should be the better for some 
chair of " The Inner Life," at an English University ! ' 
he said presently, with a smile at Molly. ' What does 
the ordinary Protestant know of all those treasures of 
spiritual experience which Catholicism has secreted for 
centuries ? There is the debt of debts that we all owe 
to the Catholic Church. 

' Well ! Some day, no doubt, we shall all be able to 


make a richer use of what she has so abundantly to 

' At present what one sees going on in the modern 
world is a vast transformation of moral ideas, which for 
the moment holds the field. Beside the older ethical 
fabric the fabric that the Church built up out of Greek 
and Jewish material a new is rising. We think a hun- 
dred things unlawful that a Catholic permits ; on the 
other hand, a hundred prohibitions of the older faith have 
lost their force. And at the same time, for half our race, 
the old terrors and eschatologies are no more. We fear 
evil for quite different reasons ; we think of it in quite 
different ways. And the net result in the best moderns 
is at once a great elaboration of conscience and an 
almost intoxicating sense of freedom. 

' Here, no doubt, it is the personal abjection of Catho- 
licism, that jars upon us most that divides it deepest 
from the modern spirit. Molly ! don't frown ! Abjec- 
tion is a Catholic word essentially a Catholic temper. It 
means the ugliest and the loveliest things. It covers the 
most various types from the nauseous hysteria of a 
Margaret Mary Alacoque, to the exquisite beauty of the 
Imitation . . , And it derives its chief force, for good and 
evil, from the belief in the Mass. There again, how little 
the Protestant understands what he reviles ! In one 
sense he understands it well enough. Catholicism would 
have disappeared long ago but for the Mass. Marvellous 
indestructible belief ! that brings God to Man, that satis- 
fies the deepest emotions of the human heart ! 

1 What will the religion of the free mind discover to put 
in its place ? Something, it must find. For the hold of 
Catholicism or its analogues upon the guiding forces 
of Christendom is irretrievably broken. And yet the 
needs of the soul remain the same. . . . 

' Some compensation, no doubt, we shall reap from 


that added sense of power and wealth, which the change 
in the root-ideas of life has brought with it for many 
people. Humanity has walked for centuries under the 
shadow of the Fall, with all that it involves. Now, a 
precisely opposite conception is slowly incorporating itself 
with all the forms of European thought. It is the disap- 
pearance the rise of a world. At the beginning of 
the century, Coleridge foresaw it. 

' . . . The transformation affects the whole of per- 
sonality ! The mass of men who read and think, and 
lead straight lives to-day, are often conscious of a dignity 
and range their fathers never knew. The spiritual 
stature of civilised man has risen like his physical 
stature ! We walk to-day a nobler earth. We come 
not as outcasts, but as sons and freemen, into the House 
of God. But all the secrets and formulae of a new mys- 
tical union have to be worked out. And so long as pain 
and death remain, humanity will always be at heart a 
mystic ! ' 

Gradually, as the old man touched these more pene- 
trating and personal matters, the head among the shadows 
had emerged. The beautiful eyes, so full unconsciously 
full of sad and torturing thought, rested upon the 
speaker. Friedland became sensitively conscious of them. 
The grey-haired scholar was in truth one of the most 
religious of men and optimists. The negations of his 
talk began to trouble him in sight of this young grief 
and passion. He drew upon all that his heart could find 
to say of things fruitful and consoling. After the liberat- 
ing joys of battle, he must needs follow the perennial 
human instinct and build anew the ' Civitas Dei.' 

When Friedland and his wife were left alone, Fried- 
land said with timidity : 


' Jane, I played the preacher to-night, and preaching 
is foolishness. But I would willingly brace that poor 
child's mind a little. And it seemed to me she listened. 1 

Mrs. Friedland laughed under her breath the saddest 

' Do you know what the child was doing this after- 


' She went to the Oratory to Benediction.' 

Friedland looked up startled then understood 
raised his hands and let them drop despairingly. 



' MISSIE are yo ben ? ' 

The outer door of Browhead Farm was pushed in- 
wards, and old Daffady's head and face appeared. 

' Come in, Daffady please come in ! ' 

Miss Fountain's tone was of the friendliest. The cow- 
man obeyed her. He came in, holding his battered hat 
in his hand. 

'Missie A thowt I'd tell yo as t' rain had cleared 
oop yo cud take a bit air verra weel, if yo felt to 
wish it.' 

Laura turned a pale but smiling face towards him. 
She had been passing through a week of illness, owing 
perhaps to the April bleakness of this high fell, and old 
Daffady was much concerned. They had made friends 
from the first days of her acquaintance with the farm. 
And during these April weeks since she had been the 
guest of her cousins, Daffady had shown her a hundred 
quaint attentions. The rugged old cowman who now 
divided with Mrs. Mason the management of the farm 
was half amused, half scandalised by what seemed to him 
the delicate uselessness of Miss Fountain. ' I'm towd as 
doon i' Lunnon town, yo'll find scores o' this mak ' he 
would say to his intimate the old shepherd ' what th' 
Awmighty med em for, bets me. Now Miss Polly, she 
can sarve t' beese ' (by which the old North Countryman 
meant ' cattle') ' an mek a hot mash for t' cawves, an 
cook an milk, an ivery oother soart o' thing as t' Lord 


give us t' wimmen for bit Missie yo've nobbut to luke 
ut her 'ands. Nobbut what theer's soomat endearin i* 
these yoong flibberties yo conno let em want for owt 
bit it's the use of em worrits me abuve a bit.' 

Certainly all that old Daffady could do to supply the 
girl's wants was done. Whether it was a continuous 
supply of peat for the fire in these chilly April days ; or a 
newspaper from the town ; or a bundle of daffodils from 
the wood below some signs of a fatherly mind he was 
always showing towards this little drone in the hive. And 
Laura delighted in him racked her brains to keep him 
talking by the fireside. 

' Well, Daffady, I'll take your advice. I'm hungering 
to be out again. But come in a bit first. When do you 
think the mistress will be back ? ' 

Daffady awkwardly established himself just inside 
the door, looking first to see that his great nailed boots 
were making no unseemly marks upon the flags. 

Laura was alone in the house. Mrs. Mason and 
Polly were gone to Whinthorpe, where they had some 
small sales to make. Mrs. Mason moreover was discon- 
tented with the terms under which she sold her milk ; and 
there were inquiries to be made as to another factor, and 
perhaps a new bargain to be struck. 

' Oh, the missis woan't be heam till dark,' said 
Daffady. ' She's not yan to do her business i' haaste. 
She'll see to 't aa hersen. An she's reet there. Them as 
ladles their wits oot o' other foak's brains gits nobbut 
middlin sarved.' 

' You don't seem to miss Mr. Hubert very much ? ' 
said Laura, with a laughing look. 

Daffady scratched his head. 

1 Noa they say he's doin wonnerfu well, dean i' 
Froswick, an I'm juist glad on 't ; for he wasna yan for 


' Why, Daffady, they say now he's killing himself with 
work ! ' 

Daffady grinned a cautious grin. 

' They'll deave yo, down i' th' town, wi their noise. 
Yo'd think they were warked to death. Bit, yo can see 
for yorsen. Why, a farmin inon mut be allus agate : in 
t' mornin, what wi' cawves to serve, an t' coos to feed, an t' 
horses to fodder, yo're fair run aff your legs. Bit down i' 
Whinthorpe or Froswick ayder, fer it's noa odds why, 
theer's nowt stirrin for a yoong mon. If cat's loose, that's 
aboot what ! ' 

Laura's face lit up. Very few things now had power 
to please her but Daffady's dialect, and Daffady's scorns. 

' And so all the world is idle but you farm-people ? ' 

' A doan't say egsackly idle,' said Daffady, with a good- 
humoured tolerance. 

1 But the factory-hands, Daffady ? ' 

' O ! a little stannin an twiddlin ! ' said Daffady con- 
temptuously ' I allus ses they pays em abuve a bit.' 

' But the miners ? come Daffady ! ' 

' I'm not stannin to it aw roond,' said Daffady patiently 
' I laid it down i' th' general.' 

' And all the people, who work with their heads, Daffady, 
like like my papa ? ' 

The girl smiled softly, and turned her slim neck to 
look at the old man. She was charmingly pretty so, 
among the shadows of the farm -kitchen but very touch- 
ing as the old man dimly felt. The change in her that 
worked so uncomfortably upon his rustic feelings went far 
deeper than any mere aspect of health or sickness. The 
spectator felt beside her a ghostly presence that ' sad 
sister, Pain ' stealing her youth away, smile as she might. 

'I doan't knaw aboot them, missie nor aboot yor 
fadther thoo I'll uphod tha Muster Stephen was a 
terr'ble cliver mon. Bit if yo doan't bring a gude yed wi 


yo to th' farmin yo may let it alane. When th' owd 
measter here was deein, Mr. Hubert was verra down- 
hearted yo understan, an verra wishfa to say soomat 
frendly to th' owd man, noo it had coom to th' lasst of im. 
" Fadther " he ses " dear fadther is there nowt I could 
. do fer tha ? " " Aye, lad " ses th' owd un " gie me thy 
yed, an tak mine thine is gude enoof to be buried wi." An 
at that he shet his mouth, an deed.' 

Daffady told his story with relish. His contempt for 
Hubert was of many years' standing. Laura lifted her 

' That was sharp, for the last word. I don't think you 
should stick pins when you're dying dying I ' she 
repeated the word with a passionate energy ' going quite 
away for ever.' Then, with a sudden change of tone 
1 Can I have the cart to-morrow, Daffady ? ' 

Daffady, who had been piling the fire with fresh peat, 
paused and looked down upon her. His long lank face, his 
weather-stained clothes, his great twisted hand were all of 
the same colour the colour of wintry grass and lichened 
rock. But his eyes were bright and blue, and a vivid 
streak of white hair fell across his high forehead. As the 
girl asked her question the old man's air of fatherly con- 
cern became more marked. 

' Mut yo goa, missie ? it did yo noa gude lasst time.' 

' Yes, I must go. I think so I hope so ! ' She 
checked herself. ' But I'll wrap up.' 

' Mrs. Fountain's nobbut sadly, I unnerstan ? ' 

' She's rather better again. But I must go to-morrow. 
Daffady, Cousin Elizabeth won't forget to bring up the 
letters ? ' 

' I niver knew her du sich a thing as thattens," said 
Daffady, with caution. 

1 And do you happen to know whether Mr. Bayley is 
coming to supper ? ' 



' T' minister '11 mebbe coom if t' weather hods up.' 

' Daffady do you think that when you don't agree 
with people about religion it's right and proper to sit 
every night and tear them to pieces ? ' 

The colour had suddenly flooded her pale face her 
attitude had thrown off languor. 

Daffady showed embarrassment. 

' Well, noa, missie Aa doan't hod mysen : wi per- 
sonalities. Yo mun wrastle wi t' sin an gaa saftly by t' 

' Sin ! ' she said scornfully. 

Daffady was quelled. 

1 I've allus thowt mysen,' he said hastily, ' as we'd a 
deal to larn from Romanists i" soom ways. Noo, their 
noshun o' Purgatory I daurna say a word for 't when 
t' minister's taakin for there's noa warrant for 't i' 
Scriptur, as I can mek oot bit I'll uphod yo, it's juist 
handy ! Aa've often thowt so, i' my aan preachin. 
Heaven an hell are verra well for t' foak as are ower 
good, or ower bad bit t' moast o' foak are juist a mish- 

He shook his head slowly ; and then ventured a glance 
at Miss Fountain to see whether he had appeased her. 

Laura seemed to rouse herself with an effort from 
some thoughts of her own. 

' Daffady how the sun's shining ! I'll go out. 
Daffady, you're very kind and nice to me I wonder why ? ' 

She laid one of the hands that seemed to the cowman 
so absurd, upon his arm, and smiled at him. The old 
man reddened and grunted. She sprang up with a laugh ; 
and the kitchen was instantly filled by a whirlwind of 
barks from Fricka, who at last foresaw a walk. 

Laura took her way up the fell. She climbed the hill 
above the farm, and then descended slowly upon a 


sheltered corner that held the old Browhead Chapel, 
whereof the fanatical Mr. Bayley worse luck ! was the 
curate in charge. 

She gave a wide berth to the vicarage, which with two 
or three cottages, embowered in larches and cherry trees, 
lay immediately below the chapel. She descended upon 
the chapel from the fell which lay wild about it and above 
it ; she opened a little gate into the tiny churchyard, and 
found a sunny rock to sit on ; while Fricka rushed about 
barking at the tits and the linnets. 

Under the April sun and the light wind, the girl gave 
a sigh of pleasure. It was a spot she loved. The old 
chapel stood high on the side of a more inland valley 
that descended not to the sea, but to the Greet a green 
open vale, made glorious at its upper end by the over- 
peering heads of great mountains, and falling softly 
through many folds and involutions to the woods of the 
Greet the woods of Bannisdale. 

So blithe and shining it was, on this April day ! The 
course of the bright twisting stream was dimmed here and 
there by mists of fruit blossom. For the damson trees 
were all out, patterning the valleys ; marking the bounds 
of orchard and field, of stream and road. Each with 
its larch clump, the grey and white farms lay scattered 
on the pale green of the pastures ; on either side of the 
valley the limestone pushed upward, through the grassy 
slopes of the fells, and made long edges and ' scars ' 
against the sky ; while down by the river hummed the 
old mill where Laura had danced, a year before. 

It was Westmoreland in its remoter, gentler aspect 
Westmoreland far away from the dust of coaches and 
hotels an untouched pastoral land, enwrought with a 
charm and sweetness none can know but those who love 
and linger. Its hues and lines are all sober and very 
simple. In these outlying fell districts, there is no 


splendour of colour, no majesty of peak or precipice. 
The mountain-land is at its homeliest though still wild 
and free as the birds that flash about its streams. The 
purest radiance of cool sunlight floods it on an April day ; 
there are pale subtleties of grey and purple in the rocks, 
in the shadows, in the distances, on which the eye may 
feed perpetually ; and in the woods and bents a never- 
ceasing pageantry of flowers. 

And what beauty in the little chapel-yard itself! 
Below it the ground ran down steeply to the village and 
the river, and at its edge out of its loose boundary wall 
rose a clump of Scotch firs, drawn in a grand Italian 
manner upon the delicacy of the scene beyond. Close to 
them a huge wild-cherry thrust out its white boughs, not 
yet in their full splendour, and through their openings the 
distant blues of fell and sky wavered and shimmered as 
the wind played with the tree. And all round, among the 
humble nameless graves, the silkiest, finest grass grass 
that gives a kind of quality, as of long and exquisite 
descent, to thousands of Westmoreland fields grass that 
is the natural mother of flowers, and the sister of all clear 
streams. Daffodils grew in it now, though the daffodil 
hour was waning. A little faded but still lovely, they ran 
dancing in and out of the graves up to the walls of the 
chapel itself a foam of blossom breaking or. the grey rock 
of the church. 

Generations ago, when the fells were roadless and 
these valleys hardly peopled, the monks of a great priory 
church on the neighbouring coast built here this little 
pilgrimage chapel, on the highest point of a long and 
desolate track connecting the inland towns with the great 
abbeys of the coast, and with all the western sea- 
board. Fields had been enclosed and farms had risen 
about it ; but still the little church was one of the 
loneliest and remotest of fanes. So lonely and remote that 


the violent hand of Puritanism had almost passed it by, 
had been content at least with a rough blow or two, 
defacing, not destroying. Above the moth-eaten table 
that replaced the ancient altar there still rose a window 
that breathed the very secreta of the old faith a window 
of radiant fragments, piercing the twilight of the little 
church with strange, uncomprehended things images 
that linked the humble chapel and its worshippers with 
the great European story, with Chartres and Amiens, with 
Toledo and Kome. 

For here, under a roof shaken every Sunday by Mr. 
Bayley's thunders, there stood a golden St. Anthony, a 
virginal St. Margaret. And all round them, in a ruined con- 
fusion, dim sacramental scenes that flamed into jewels 
as the light smote them ! In one corner a priest raised the 
Host. His delicate gold-patterned vestments, his tonsured 
head, and the monstrance in his hands, tormented the 
curate's eyes every Sunday as he rose from his knees, 
before the Commandments. And in the very centre of 
the stone tracery, a woman lifted herself in bed to receive 
the Holy Oil so pale, so eager still, after all these cen- 
turies ! Her white face spoke week by week to the dales- 
folk as they sat in their high pews. Many a rough 
countrywoman, old perhaps, and crushed by toil and 
child-bearing, had wondered over her, had felt a sister 
in her, had loved her secretly. 

But the children's dreams followed St. Anthony 
rather the kind, sly old man, with the belled staff, up 
which his pig was climbing. 

Laura haunted the little place. 

She could not be made to go when Mr. Bayley 
preached ; but on weekdays she would get the key from 
the schoolmistress, and hang over the old pews, puzzling 
out the window or trying to decipher some of the other 
Popish fragments that the church contained. Sometimes 


she would sit rigid, in a dream that took all the young 
roundness from her face. But it was like the Oratory 
church, and Benediction. It brought her somehow near 
to Helbeck, and to Bannisdale. 

To-day, however, she could not tear herself from the 
breeze and the sun. She sat among the daffodils, in a 
sort of sad delight, wondering sometimes at the veil that 
had dropped between her and beauty dulling and darken 
ing all things. 

Surely Cousin Elizabeth would bring a letter from 
Augustina ? Every day she had been expecting it. This 
was the beginning of the second week after Easter. All 
the Easter functions at Bannisdale must now be over; 
the opening of the new orphanage to boot; and the 
gathering of Catholic gentry to meet the Bishop in that 
dreary, neglected house ! Augustina, indeed, knew nothing 
of these things except from the reports that might be 
brought to her by the visitors to her sick room. Bannis- 
dale had now no hostess. Mr. Helbeck kept the house 
as best he could. 

Was it not three weeks and more, now, that Laura 
had been at the farm ? And only two visits to Bannisdale ! 
For the Squire, by Augustina's wish, and against the 
girl's own judgment, knew nothing of her presence in 
the neighbourhood, and she could only see her stepmother 
on days when Augustina could be certain that her brother 
was away. During part of Passion week, all HoVy week, 
and half Easter week, priests had been staying in the 
house or the orphanage ceremony had detained the 
Squire. But by now, surely, he had gone to London on 
some postponed business. That was what Mrs. Fountain 
expected. The girl hungered for her letter. 

Poor Augustina ! The heart malady had been develop- 
ing rapidly. She was very ill, and, Laura thought, un- 


And yet, when the first shock of it was over in spite 
of the bewilderment and grief she suffered in losing her 
companion Mrs. Fountain had been quite willing to 
recognise and accept the situation which had been created 
by Laura's violent action. She wailed over the counter- 
manded gowns and furnishings; but she was in truth 
relieved. ' Now we know where we are again,' she had 
said both to herself and Father Bowles. That strange 
topsy-turveydom of things was over. She was no more 
tormented with anxieties; and she moved again with 
personal ease and comfort about her old home. 

Poor Alan of course felt it dreadfully. And Laura 
could not come to Bannisdale for a long, long time. But 
Mrs. Fountain could 30 to her several times a year. 
And the Sisters were very good, and chatty. Oh no, it 
was best much best ! 

But now whether it came from physical weakening 
or no Mrs. Fountain was always miserable, always 
complaining. She spoke of her brother perpetually. Yet 
when he was with her she thought him hard and cold. 
It was evident to Laura that she feared him; that she 
was never at ease with him. Merely to speak of those 
increased austerities of his, which had marked the Lent 
of this year, troubled and frightened her. 

Often, too, she would lie and look at Laura with 
an expression of dry bitterness and resentment without 
speaking. It was as though she were equally angry with 
the passion which had changed her brother and with 
Laura's strength in breaking from ii. 

Laura moved her seat a little. Between the wild cherry 
and the firs was a patch of deep blue distance. Those 
were his woods. But the house was hidden by the hills. 

' Somehow I have got to live ! ' she said to herself 
suddenly, with a violent trembling. 

D D 


But how? For she bore two griefs. The grief for 
him, of which she never let a word pass her lips, was 
perhaps the strongest among the forces that were destroy- 
ing her. She knew well that she had torn the heart that 
loved her that she had set free a hundred dark and 
morbid forces in Helbeck's life. 

But it was because she had realised, by the insight 
of a moment, the madness of what they had done, the 
gulf to which they were rushing because, at one and 
the same instant, there had been revealed to her the 
fatality under which she must still resist, and he must 
become gradually, inevitably, her persecutor, and her 
tyrant ! 

Amid the emotion, the overwhelming impressions of 
his story of himself, that conviction had risen in her 
inmost being a strange inexorable voice of judgment 
bidding her go ! In a flash, she had seen the wretched 
future years the daily struggle the aspect of violence, 
even of horror, that his pursuit of her, his pressure upon 
her will, might assume the sharpening of all those wild 
forces in her own nature. 

She was broken with the anguish of separation and 
how she had been able to do what she had done, she 
did not know. But the inner voice persisted that for the 
first time, amid the selfish, or passionate, or joy-seeking 
impulses of her youth, she had obeyed a higher law. The 
moral realities of the whole case closed her in. She saw 
no way out no way in which, so far as her last act was 
concerned, she could have bettered or changed the deed. 
She had done it for him, first of all. He must be delivered 
from her. And she must have room to breathe, without 
making of her struggle for liberty a hideous struggle with 
him, and with love. 

Well, but comfort ! where was it to be had ? The 
girl's sensuous craving nature fought like a tortured thing 
in the grasp laid upon it. How was it possible to go on 


suffering like this? She turned impatiently to one 
thought after another. 

Beauty ? Nature ? Last year, yes ! But now ! That 
past physical ecstasy in spring in flowing water in 
flowers in light and colour where was it gone? Let 
these tears these helpless tears make answer ! 

Music ? books ? the books that ' make incomparable 
old maids' friends? The thought of the Friedlands 
made her realise that she could still love. But after 
all how little ! against how much ! 

Eeligion ? All religion need not be as Alan Helbeck's. 
There was religion as the Friedlands understood it a 
faith convinced of God, and of a meaning for human life, 
trusting the ' larger hope ' that springs out of 'the daily 
struggle of conscience, and the garnered experience of 
feeling. Both in Friedland and his wife, there breathed a 
true spiritual dignity and peace. 

But Laura was not affected by this fact in the least. 
She put away the suggestions of it with impatience. 
Her father had not been so. Now that she had lost her 
lover, she clung the more fiercely to her father. And there 
had been no anodynes for him. 

. . . Oh if the sun the useless sun would only go 
and Cousin Elizabeth would come back and bring that 
letter ! Yes, one little pale joy there was still for a few 
weeks or months. The craving for the bare rooms of 
Bannisdale possessed her for that shadow-happiness of 
entering his house as he quitted it walking its old boards 
unknown to him touching the cushions and chairs in 
Augustina's room that he would touch, perhaps that very 
same night, or on the morrow 1 

Till Augustina's death. Then both for Laura and for 
Helbeck an Unknown before which the girl shut her 

There was company that night in the farm kitchen. 

D D 2 


Mr. Bayley, the more than evangelical curate, came to 

He was a little man, with a small sharp anaemic face 
buried in red hair. It was two or three years of mission 
work, first in Mexico, and then at Lima as the envoy of one 
of the most thoroughgoing of Protestant societies, that 
had given him his strangely vivid Motions of the place of 
Eomanism among the world's forces. At no moment in 
this experience can he have had a grain of personal success. 
Lima, apparently, is of all towns in the universe, the 
town where the beard of Protestantism is least worth 
the shaving to quote a northern proverb. At any rate, 
Mr. Bayley returned to his native land at fifty, with a per- 
manent twist of brain. Hence these preposterous sermons 
in the fell chapel ; this eager nosing out and tracking down 
of every scent of Popery ; this fanatical satisfaction in such 
a kindred soul as that of Elizabeth Mason. Some mild 
Bitualism at Whinthorpe had given him occupation for 
years ; and as for Bannisdale, he and the Masons between 
them had raised the most causeless of storms about Mr. 
Helbeck and his doings, from the beginning ; they had 
kept up for years the most rancorous memory of the 
Williams affair ; they had made the owner of the old Hall 
the bogey of a country-side. 

Laura knew it well. She never spoke to the little red 
man if she could help it. What pleased her was to make 
Daffady talk of him Daffady, whose contempt as a 
' Methody ' for ' paid priests ' made him a sure ally. 

' Why, he taaks i" church as thoo God Awmighty were 
on the pulpit stairs gi-en him his worrds ! ' said the cow- 
man, with the natural distaste of all preachers fordiatribes 
not their own ; and Laura, when she wandered the fields 
with him, would drive him on to say more and worse. 

Mr. Bayley, on the other hand, had found a new plea- 
sure in his visits to the farm since Miss Fountain's arrival. 


The young lady had escaped indeed from the evil thing 
so as by fire. But she was far too pale and thin ; she 
showed too many regrets. Moreover she was not will- 
ing to talk of Mr. Helbeck with his enemies. Indeed, 
she turned her back rigorously on any attempt to make 
her do so. 

So all that was left to the two cronies was to sit night 
after night, talking to each other in the hot hope that Miss 
Fountain might be reached thereby and strengthened 
that even Mrs. Fountain and that distant black brood 
of Bannisdale might in some indirect way be brought 
within the saving power of the Gospel. 

Strange fragments of this talk floated through the 

' Oh, my dear friend ! forbidding to marry is a 
doctrine of devils ! Now Lima, as I have often told you, 
is a city of convents 

There was a sudden grinding of chairs on the flagged 
floor. The grey head and the red approached each other ; 
the nightly shudder began ; while the girls chattered and 
coughed as loudly as they dared. 

' No A woan't A conno believe 't ! ' Mrs. Mason 
would say at last, throwing herself back against her chair 
with very red cheeks. And Daffady would look round 
furtively, trying to hear. 

But sometimes the curate would try to propitiate the 
young ladies. He made himself gentle ; he raised the 
most delicate difficulties. He had, for instance, a very 
strange compassion for the Saints. ' I hold it,' he said 
with an eye on Miss Fountain ' to be clearly demonstrable 
that the Invocation of Saints is, of all things, most 
lamentably injurious to the Saints themselves ! ' 

'Hoo can he knaw?' said Polly to Laura, open- 

But Mrs. Mason frowned. 


' A doan't hod wi Saints whativer/ she said violently. 
' So A doan't fash mysel aboot em ! ' 

Daffady sometimes would be drawn into these diver- 
sions, as he sat smoking on the settle. And then out of a 
natural slyness perhaps on these latter occasions, from 
a secret sympathy for ' missie ' he would often devote 
himself to proving the solidarity of all ' church priests,' 
Establishments, andprelatical Christians generally. Father 
Bowles might be in a ' parlish ' state ; but as to all sup- 
porters of bishops and the heathenish custom of fixed 
prayers whether they wore black gowns or no ' a man 
mut hae his doots.' 

Never had Daffady been so successful with his shafts 
as on this particular evening. Mrs. Mason grew redder 
and redder ; her large face alternately flamed and darkened 
in the firelight. In the middle the girls tried to escape into 
the parlour. But she shouted imperiously after them. 

'Polly Laura what art tha aboot? Coom back at 
yance. I'll not ha sickly foak sittin wi'oot a fire ! ' 

They came back sheepishly. And when they were 
once more settled as audience, the mistress who was by 
this time fanning herself tempestuously with the Whin- 
thorpe paper launched her last word 

1 Daffady thoo's naa call to lay doon t' law, on sic 
matters at aw. Mappen tha'll recolleck t' Bible head- 
strong as tha art i' thy aan conceit. Bit t' Bible says 
" How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough whose 
taak is o' bullocks ? " Aa coom on that yestherday an 
A've bin sair exercised aboot thy preachin ever sen ! ' 

Daffady held his peace. 

The clergyman departed, and Daffady went out to the 
cattle. Laura had not given the red-haired man her hand. 
She had found it necessary to carry her work upstairs, at 
the precise moment of his departure. But when he was 


safely off the premises she came down again to say good- 
night to her cousins. 

Oh ! they had not been unkind to her these last weeks. 
Far from it. Mrs. Mason had felt a fierce triumph she 
knew in her broken engagement. Probably at first 
Cousin Elizabeth had only acquiesced in Hubert's demand 
that Miss Fountain should be asked to stay at the farm, 
out of an ugly wish to see the girl's discomfiture for 
herself. And she had not been able to forego the joy of 
bullying Mr. Helbeck's late betrothed through Mr.Bayley's 

Nevertheless, when this dwindled ghostly Laura 
appeared, and began to flit through the low-ceiled room 
and dark passages of the farm carefully avoiding any 
talk about herself or her story always cheerful, self- 
possessed, elusive the elder woman began after a little 
to have strange stirrings of soul towards her. The girl's 
invincible silence, taken with those physical signs of a 
consuming pain, that were beyond her concealment, 
worked upon a nature that, as far as all personal life and 
emotion were concerned, was no less strong and silent. 
Polly saw with astonishment that fires were lit in the 
parlour at odd times that Laura might read or practise. 
She was amazed to watch her mother put out some little 
delicacy at tea or supper that Laura might be made to eat. 

And yet ! after all these amenities, Mr. Bay ley would 
still be asked to supper, and Laura would still be pelted 
and harried from supper-time till bed. 

To-night when Laura returned, Mrs. Mason was in a 
muttering and stormy mood. Daffady had angered her 
sorely. Laura, moreover, had a letter from Bannisdale, 
and since it came there had been passing lights in Miss 
Fountain's eyes, and passing reds on her pale cheeks. 

As the girl approached her cousin, Mrs. Mason turned 
upon her abruptly. 


'Dostha want the cart to-morrow? Daffady said 
soomat aboot it.' 

' If it could be spared.' 

Mrs. Mason looked at her fixedly. 

' If Aa was thoo,' she said, ' Aa'd not flutter ony moie 
roond that can'le ! ' 

Laura shrank as though her cousin had struck her. 
But she controlled herself. 

'Do you forget my stepmother's state, Cousin 
Elizabeth ? ' 

' Oh ! yo con aw mak much o' what suits tha ! ' cried 
the mistress, as she walked fiercely to the outer door and 
locked it noisily from the great key-bunch hanging at her 

The girl's eyes showed a look of flame. Then her 
head seemed to swim. She put her hand to her brow, 
and walked weakly across the kitchen to the door of the 

1 Mother ! ' cried Polly, in indignation ; and she sprang 
after Laura. But Laura waved her back imperiously, and 
almost immediately they heard her door shut upstairs. 

An hour later, Laura was lying sleepless in her bed. 
It was a clear cold night a spring frost after the rain. 
The moon shone through the white blind, on the old four- 
poster, on Laura's golden hair spread on the pillow, on the 
great meal-ark which barred the chimney, on the rude 
walls and woodwork of the room. 

Her arms were thrown behind her head, supporting it. 
Nothing moved in the house, or the room the only 
sound was the rustling of a mouse in one corner. 

A door opened on a sudden. There was a step in the 
passage, and some one knocked at her door. 

' Come in ' 

On the threshold stood Mrs. Mason in a cotton bed- 


gown and petticoat, her grey locks in confusion about her 
massive face and piercing eyes. 

She closed the door, and came to the bedside. 

' Laura ! Aa've coom to ast thy pardon ! ' 

Laura raised herself on one arm, and looked at the 
apparition with amazement. 

' Mebbe A've doon wrang. We shouldna quench the 
smoakin flax. Soa theer's my han, child if thoo can 
teak it.' 

The old woman held out her hand. There was an 
indescribable sound in her voice, as of deep waters well- 
ing up. 

Laura fell back on her pillows the whitest, fragilest 
creature under the shadows of the old bed. She opened 
her delicate arms. ' Suppose you kiss me, Cousin 
Elizabeth ! ' 

The elder woman stooped clumsily. The girl linked 
her arms round her neck and kissed her warmly, re- 
peatedly, feeling through all her motherless sense the 
satisfaction of a long hunger in the contact of the old face 
and ample bosom. 

The reserve of both forbade anything more. Mrs. 
Mason tucked in the small figure lingered a little said, 
' Laura, th'art not coald nor sick ? ' and when Laura 
answered cheerfully, the mistress went. 

The girl's eyes were wet for a while ; her heart beat 
fast. There had been few affections in her short life 
far too few. Her nature gave itself with a fatal prodi- 
gality, or not at all. And now what was there left to 

But she slept more peacefully for Mrs. Mason's visit 
with Augustina's letter of summons under her hand. 

The day was still young when Laura reached Bannis- 


Never had the house looked so desolate. Dust lay 
on the oaken boards and tables of the hall. There was 
no fire on the great hearth, and the blinds in the oriel 
windows were still mostly drawn. But the remains of 
yesterday's fire were visible yet, and a dirty duster and 
pan adorned the Squire's chair. 

The Irishwoman with a half-crippled husband, who 
had replaced Mrs. Denton, was clearly incompetent. Mrs. 
Denton at least had been orderly and clean. The girl's 
heart smote her with a fresh pang as she made her 
way upstairs. 

She found Augustina no worse ; and in her room 
there was always comfort, and even brightness. She 
had a good nurse ; a Catholic ' sister ' from London, 
of a kind and cheerful type, that Laura herself could not 
dislike ; and whatever working power there was in the 
household was concentrated on her service. 

Miss Fountain took off her things, and settled in for 
the day. Augustina chattered incessantly, except when 
her weakness threw her into long dozes, mingled often, 
Laura thought, with slight wandering. Her wish evi- 
dently was to be always talking of her brother ; but in 
this she checked herself whenever she could, as though 
controlled by some resolution of her own, or some advice 
from another. 

Yet in the end she said a great deal about him. She 
spoke of the last weeks of Lent, of the priests who had 
been staying in the house ; of the kindness that had been 
shown her. That wonderful network of spiritual care 
and attentions like a special system of courtesy having 
its own rules and etiquette with which Catholicism sur- 
rounds the dying, had been drawn about the poor little 
widow. During the last few weeks Mass had been said 
several times in her room ; Father Leadham had given her 
Communion every day in Easter Week ; on Easter Sunday 


the children from the orphanage had come to sing to 
her ; that Eoman palm over the bed was brought her by 
Alan himself. The statuette of St. Joseph, too, was his 

So she lay and talked through the day, cheerfully 
enough. She did not want to hear of Cambridge or the 
Friedlands, still less of the farm. Her whole interest now 
was centered in her own state ; and in the Catholic joys 
and duties which it still permitted. She never spoke of 
her husband ; Laura bitterly noted it. 

But there were moments when she watched her step- 
daughter, and once when the Sister had left them, she 
laid her hand on Laura's arm and whispered : 

' Oh ! Laura he has grown so much greyer since 
since October.' 

The girl said nothing. Augustina closed her eyes, 
and said with much twitching and agitation, ' When 
when I am gone, he will go to the Jesuits I know he 
will. The place will come to our cousin, Eichard Hel- 
beck. He has plenty of money it will be very different 
some day.' 

' Did did Father Leadham tell you that ? ' said 
Laura, after a while. 

' Yes. He admitted it. He said they had twice dis- 
suaded him in former years. But now when I'm gone 
it'll be allowed.' 

Suddenly Augustina opened her eyes. ' Laura ! where 
are you ? ' Her little crooked face worked with tears. 
' I'm glad ! We ought all to be glad. I don't I don't 
believe he ever has a happy moment ! ' 

She began to weep piteously. Laura tried to console 
her, putting her cheek to hers, with inarticulate soothing 
words. But Augustina turned away from her almost in 

The girl's heart was wrung at every turn. She 


lingered, however, till the last minute almost till the 
April dark had fallen. 

When she reached the hall again, she stood a moment 
looking round its cold and gloom. First, with a start, 
she noticed a pile of torn envelopes and papers lying on 
a table, which had escaped her in the morning. The 
Squire must have thrown them down there in the early 
morning, just before starting on his journey. The small 
fact gave her a throb of strange joy brought back the 
living presence. Then she noticed that the study door 
was open. 

A temptation seized her drove her before it. Silence 
and solitude possessed the house. The servants were 
far away in the long rambling basement. Augustina was 
asleep with her nurse beside her. 

Laura went noiselessly across the hall. She pushed 
the door she looked round his room. 

No change. The books, the crucifix, the pictures, all 
as before. But the old walls, and wainscots, the air of the 
room, seemed still to hold the winter. They struck chill. 

The same pile of books in daily use upon his table 
a few little manuals and reprints ' The Spiritual 
Combat,' the ' Imitation,' some sermons the volume of 
' Acta Sanctorum ' for the month. 

She could not tear herself from them. Trembling, 
she hung over them, and her fingers blindly opened a 
little book which lay on the top. It fell apart at a place 
which had been marked freshly marked, it seemed to 
her. A few lines had been scored in pencil, with a date 
beside them. She looked closer, and read the date of the 
foregoing Easter Eve. And the passage with its scored 
lines ran thus : 

1 Drive far from us the crowd of evil spirits who strive 
to approach us; unloose the too firm hold of earthly 
things ; untie with Thy gentle and wounded hands the 


fibres of our hearts that cling so fast round human affec- 
tions', let our weary head rest on Thy bosom till the 
struggle is over, and our cold form falls back dust and 

She stood a moment looking down upon the book 
feeling life one throb of anguish. Then wildly she stooped 
and kissed the pages. Dropping on her knees too, she 
kissed the arm of the chair, the place where his hand 
would rest. 

No one came the solitude held. Gradually she got 
the better of her misery. She rose, replaced the book, and 

The following night, very late, Laura again lay sleep- 
less. But April was blowing and plashing outside. The 
high fell and the lonely farm seemed to lie in the very 
track of the storms, as they rushed from the south-west 
across the open moss to beat themselves upon the 

But the moon shone sometimes, and then the girl's 
restlessness would remind her of the open fell-side, of 
pale lights upon the distant sea, of cool blasts whirling 
among the old thorns and junipers, and she would long 
to be up and away escaped from this prison where she 
could not sleep. 

How the wind could drop at times to what an utter 
and treacherous silence ! And what strange, misleading 
sounds the silence brought with it ! 

She sat up in bed. Surely some one had opened the 
further gate the gate from the lane? But the wind 
surged in again, and she had to strain her ears. Nothing. 
Yes I wheels, and hoofs ! A carriage of some sort 

A sudden thought came to her. The dogcart it 
seemed to be such by the sound drew up at the farm 


door, and a man descended. She heard the reins thrown 
over the horse's back, then the groping for the knocker, 
and at last blows loud and clear, startling the night. 

Mrs. Mason's window was thrown open next, and her 
voice came out imperiously ' What is 't ? ' 

Laura's life seemed to hang on the answer. 

' Will you please tell Miss Fountain that her step- 
mother is in great danger, and asks her to come at .once.' 

She leapt from her bed, but must needs wait turned 
again to stone for the next word. It came after a pause. 

' And wha's the message from ? ' 

'Kindly tell her that Mr. Helbeck is here with the 

The window closed. Laura slipped into her clothes, 
and by the time Mrs. Mason emerged the girl was already 
in the passage. 

' I heard,' she said briefly. ' Let us go down.' 

Mrs. Mason, pale and frowning, led the way. She 
undid the heavy bars and lock, and for the first time in 
her life stood confronted on her own threshold with 
the Papist Squire of Bannisdale. 

Mr. Helbeck greeted her ceremoniously. But his 
black eyes, so deep-set and cavernous in his strong-boned 
face, did not seem to notice her. They ran past her to 
that small shadow in the background. 

' Are you ready ? ' he said, addressing the shadow. 

1 One moment, please,' said Laura. She was tying a 
thick veil round her hat, and struggling with the fastenings 
of her cloak. 

Mrs. Mason looked from one to another like a baffled 
lioness. But to let them go without a word was beyond 
her. She turned to the Squire. 

' Misther Helbeck ! yo'll tell me on your conscience 
as it's reet and just afther aw that's passt 'at this 
yoong woman should go wi yo ? ' 


Laura shivered with rage and shame. Her fingers 
hastened. Mr. Helbeck showed no emotion whatever. 

1 Mrs. Fountain is dying,' he said briefly ; and again 
his eye anxious, imperious sought for the girl. She 
came hastily forward from the shadows of the kitchen. 

Mr. Helbeck mounted the cart, and held out his hand 
to her. 

1 Have you got a shawl ? The wind is very keen ! ' He 
spoke with the careful courtesy one uses to a stranger. 

'Thank you. I am all right. Please let us go! 
Cousin Elizabeth ! ' Laura threw herself backwards a 
moment, as the cart began to move, and kissed her hand. 

Mrs. Mason made no sign. She watched the cart, 
slowly picking its way over the rough ground of the 
farmyard, till it turned the corner of the big barn and 
disappeared in the gusty darkness. 

Then she turned housewards. She put down her 
guttering candle on the great oak table of the kitchen, and 
sank herself upon the settle. 

' Soa that's him ! ' she said to herself ; and her 
peasant mind in a dull heat, like thalj of the peat fire 
beside her, went wandering back over the hatreds of 
twenty years. 



As the dogcart reached the turning of the lane, Mr. 
Helbeck said to his companion 

' Would you kindly take the cart through ? I must 
shut the gate.' 

He jumped down. Laura with some difficulty for 
the high wind coming from the fell increased her general 
confusion of brain passed the gate, and took the pony 
safely down a rocky piece of road beyond. 

His first act in rejoining her was to wrap the rugs 
which he had brought more closely about her. 

1 1 had no idea in coming,' he said ' that the wind 
was so keen. Now we face it.' 

He spoke precisely in the same voice that he might 
have used, say, to Polly Mason had she been confided to 
him for a night journey. But as he arranged the rug, 
his hand for an instant had brushed Laura's ; and when 
she gave him the reins, she leant back hardly able to 

With a passionate effort of will, she summoned a com- 
posure to match his own. 

' When did the change come ? ' she asked him. 

1 About eight o'clock. Then it was she told me you 
were here. We thought at first of sending over a 
messenger in the morning. But finally my sister begged 
me to come at once.' 

' Is there immediate danger ? ' The girlish voice must 
needs tremble. 


' I trust we shall still find her,' he said gently ' but 
her nurses were greatly alarmed.' 

' And was there much suffering ? ' 

She pressed her hands together under the coverings 
that sheltered them, in a quick anguish. Oh ! had she 
thought enough, cared enough, for Augustina ! 

As she spoke the horse gave a sudden swerve, as 
though Mr. Helbeck had pulled the rein involuntarily. 
They bumped over a large stone, and the Squire hastily 
excused himself for bad driving. Then he answered 
her question. As far as he or the Sister could judge there 
was little active suffering. But the weakness had in- 
creased rapidly that afternoon, and the breathing was 
much harassed. 

He went on to describe exactly how he had left the 
poor patient, giving the details with a careful minuteness. 
At the same moment that he had started for Miss Foun- 
tain, old Wilson had gone to Whinthorpe for the doctor. 
The Eeverend Mother was there ; and the nurses kind 
and efficient women were doing all that could be done. 

He spoke in a voice that seemed to have no colour 
or emphasis. One who did not know him might have 
thought he gave his report entirely without emotion that 
his sister's coming death did not affect him. 

Laura longed to ask whether Father Bowles was there, 
whether the last Sacraments had been given. But she did 
not dare. That question seemed to belong to a world that 
was for ever sealed between them. And he volunteered 

They entered on a steep descent to the main road. 
The wind came in fierce gusts so that Laura had to hold 
her hat on with both hands. The carriage lamps wavered 
wildly on the great junipers, and hollies, the clumps of 
blossoming gorse, that sprinkled the mountain ; some- 
times, in a pause of the wind there would be a roar 

E E 


of water, or a rush of startled sheep. Tumult had 
taken possession of the fells no less than of the girl's 

Once she was thrown against the Squire's shoulder, 
and murmured a hurried ' I beg your pardon.' And 
at the same moment an image of their parting on 
the stairs at Bannisdale rose on the dark. She saw 
his tall head bending herself kissing the breast of his 

At last they came out above the great prospect of moss 
and mountain. There was just moon enough to see it by ; 
though night and storm held the vast open cup, across 
which the clouds came racing beating up from the 
coast and the south-west. Ghostly light touched the river- 
courses here and there, and showed the distant portal of 
the sea. Through the cloud and wind and darkness 
breathed a great Nature-voice, a voice of power and 
infinite freedom. Laura suddenly, in a dim passionate 
way, thought of the words ' to cease upon the midnight 
with no pain.' If life could just cease, here, in the wild 
dark, while, for the last time in their lives, they were 
once more alone together ! while in this little cart, on 
this lonely road, she was still his charge and care de- 
pendent on his man's strength, delivered over to him, and 
him only out of all the world 

When they reached the lower road the pony quickened 
his pace, and the wind was less boisterous. The silence 
between them, which had been natural enough in the 
high and deafening blasts of the fell, began to be itself a 
speech. The Squire broke it. 

' I am glad to hear that your cousin is doing so well 
at Froswick,' he said, with formal courtesy. 

Laura made a fitting reply, and they talked a little of 
the chances of business, and the growth of Froswick. 
Then the silence closed again. 


Presently, as the road passed between stone walls, 
with a grass strip on either side, two dark forms shot up 
in front of them. The pony shied violently. Had they 
been still travelling on the edge of the steep grass slope 
which had stretched below them for a mile or so after 
their exit from the lane, they must have upset. As it 
was, Laura was pitched against the railing of the dog- 
cart, and as she instinctively grasped it to save herself, 
her wrist was painfully twisted. 

' You are hurt ! ' said Helbeck, pulling up the pony. 

The first cry of pain had been beyond her control. 
But she would have died rather than permit another. 

' It is nothing,' she said ' really nothing ! What was 
the matter ? ' 

' A mare and her foal, as far as I can see,' said Hel- 
beck, looking behind him ; ' how careless of the farm- 
people ! ' he added angrily. 

' Oh ! they must have strayed,' said Laura faintly. 
All her will was struggling with this swimming brain it 
should not overpower her. 

The tinkling of a small burn could be heard beside the 
road. Helbeck jumped down. ' Don't be afraid the 
pony is really quite quiet he'll stand.' 

In a second or two he was back and just in time. 
Laura knew well the touch of the little horn cup he put 
into her cold hand. Many and many a time, in the 
scrambles of their summer walks, had he revived her 
from it. 

She drank eagerly. When he mounted the carriage 
again, some strange instinct told her that he was not the 
same. She divined she was sure of an agitation in him 
which at once calmed her own. 

She quickly assured him that she was much better, 
that the pain was fast subsiding. Then she begged him 
to hurry on. She even forced herself to smile and talk. 

EE 2 


' It was very ghostly, wasn't it ? Daffady, our old 
cowman, will never believe they were real horses. He 
has a story of a bogle in this road a horse-bogle, too 
that makes one creep.' 

1 Oh ! I know that story,' said Helbeck. ' It used to be 
told of several roads about here. Old Wilson once said 
to me, " when aa wor yoong, ivery field an ivery lane 
wor fu o' bogles ! " It is strange how the old tales have 
died out, while a bran new one, like our own ghost story, 
has grown up.' 

Laura murmured a ' Yes.' Had he forgotten who was 
once the ghost ? 

Silence fell again, a silence in which each heart could 
almost hear the other beat. Oh ! how wicked wicked 
would she be if she had come meddling with his life 
again, of her own free-will ! 

Here at last was the bridge, and the Bannisdale gate. 
Laura shut her eyes, and reckoned up the minutes that 
remained. Then, as they sped up the park, she wrestled 
indignantly with herself. She was outraged by her own 
callousness towards this death in front of her. ' Oh ! let 
me think of her ! let me be good to her ! ' she cried, in 
dumb appeal to some power beyond herself. She recalled 
her father. She tried with all her young strength to 
forget the man beside her and those piteous facts that 
lay between them. 

In Augustina's room darkness except for one shaded 
light. The doors were all open, that the poor tormented 
lungs might breathe. 

Laura went in softly, the Squire following. A nurse 

' She has rallied wonderfully,' she said in a cheerful 
whisper, as she approached them, finger on lip. 

' Laura ! ' said a sighing voice. 


It came from a deep old-fashioned chair, in which sat 
Mrs. Fountain, propped by many pillows. 

Laura went up to her, and dropping on a stool beside 
her, the girl tenderly caressed the wasted hand that had 
itself no strength to move towards her. 

In the few hours since Laura had last seen her, a great 
change had passed over Mrs. Fountain. Her little face, 
usually so red, had blanched to parchment white, and the 
nervous twitching of the head, in the general failure of 
strength, had almost ceased. She lay stilled and refined 
under the touch of death ; and the sweetness of her blue 
eyes had grown more conscious and more noble. 

' Laura I'm a little better. But you mustn't go again. 
Alan she must stay ! ' 

She tried to turn her head to him, appealing. The 
Squire came forward. 

' Everything is ready for Miss Fountain, dear if she 
will be good enough to stay. Nurse will provide and 
we will send over for any luggage in the morning.' 

At those words ' Miss Fountain,' a slight movement 
passed over the sister's face. 

1 Laura ! ' she said feebly. 

'Yes, Augustina I will stay. I won't leave you 

' Your father did wish it, didn't he ? ' 

The mention of her father so startled Laura that the 
tears rushed to her eyes, and she dropped her face for a 
moment on Mrs. Fountain's hand. When she lifted it 
she was no longer conscious that Helbeck stood behind 
his sister's chair, looking down upon them both. 

Yes always, dear. Do you remember what a good 
nurse he was ? so much better than I ? ' 

Her face shone through the tears that bedewed it. 
Already the emotion of her drive the last battles with 
the wind had for the moment restored the brilliancy of 


eye and cheek. Even Augustina's dim sight was held by 
her, and by the tumbled gold of her hair as it caught the 

But the name which had given Laura a thrill of joy 
had roused a disturbed and troubled echo in Mrs. Fountain. 

She looked miserably at her brother, and asked for her 
beads. He put them across her hand, and then, bending 
over her chair, he said a ' Hail Mary ' and an ' Our Father,' 
in which she faintly joined. 

' And, Alan will Father Leadham come to-morrow ? ' 

' Without fail.' 

A little later Laura was in her old room with Sister 
Eosa. The doctor had paid his visit. But for the moment 
the collapse of the afternoon had been arrested; Mrs. 
Fountain was in no urgent danger. 

' Now then,' said the nurse cheerily, when Miss 
Fountain had been supplied with all necessaries for sleep, 
' let us look at that arm, please.' 

Laura turned in surprise. 

'Mr. Helbeck tells me you wrenched your wrist on 
the drive. He thought you would perhaps allow me to 
treat it.' 

Laura submitted. It was indeed nearly helpless and 
much swollen, though she had been hardly conscious of 
it since the little accident happened. The brisk, black- 
eyed Sister had soon put a comforting bandage round it, 
chattering all the time of Mrs. Fountain and the ups and 
downs of the illness. 

' She missed you very much after you went yesterday. 
But now, I suppose, you will stay? It won't be long, 
poor lady ! ' 

The Sister gave a little professional sigh, and Laura, of 
course, repeated that she must certainly stay. As the 
Sister broke off the cotton with which she had been 


stitching the bandage, she stole a curious glance at her 
patient. She had not frequented the orphanage in her 
off-time for nothing ; and she was perfectly aware of the 
anxiety with which the Catholic friends of Bannisdale must 
needs view the re-entry of Miss Fountain. Sister Eosa, 
who spoke French readily, wondered whether it had not 
been after all ' reculer pour mieux sauter.' 

After a first restless sleep of sheer fatigue, Laura found 
herself sitting up in bed struggling with a sense of horrible 
desolation. Augustina was dead Mr. Helbeck was gone, 
was a Jesuit and she herself was left alone in the old 
house, weeping with no one, not a living soul, to hear. 
That was the impression ; and it was long before she 
could disentangle truth from nightmare. 

When she lay down again, sleep was banished. She 
lit a candle and waited for the dawn. There in the 
flickering light were the old tapestries the princess step- 
ping into her boat, Diana ranging through the wood. 
Nothing was changed in the room or its furniture. But the 
Laura who had fretted or dreamed there ; who had written 
her first letter to Molly Friedland from that table ; 
who had dressed for her lover's eye before that rickety 
glass ; who had been angry or sullen, or madly happy 
there why, the Laura who now for the second time 
watched the spring dawn through that diamond-paned 
window looked back upon her as the figures in Eossetti's 
strange picture meet the ghosts of their old selves with 
the same sense of immeasurable, irrevocable distance. 
What childish follies and impertinences ! what misun- 
derstanding of others, and misreckoning of the things that 
most concerned her what blind drifting what inevitable 
shipwreck ! 

Ah ! this aching of the whole being, physical and moral, 
again she asked herself, only with a wilder impatience, 
how long it could be borne. 


The wind had fallen, but in the pause of the dawn the 
river spoke with the hills. The light mounted quickly. 
Soon the first glint of sun came through the curtains. 
Laura extinguished her candle, and went to let in the day. 
As on that first morning, she stood in the window, follow- 
ing with her eye the foaming curves of the Greet, or the 
last streaks of snow upon the hills, or the daffodil stars in 
the grass. 

Hush ! what time was it ? She ran for her watch. 
Nearly seven. 

She wrapped a shawl about her, and went back to her 
post, straining to see the path on the further side of the 
river through the mists that still hung about it. Sud- 
denly her head dropped upon her hands. One sob forced 
its way. Helbeck had passed. 

For some three weeks, after this April night, the old 
house of Bannisdale was the scene of one of those dramas 
of life and death which depend, not upon external incident, 
but upon the inner realities of the heart, its inextinguish- 
able affections, hopes, and agonies. 

Helbeck and Laura were once more during this time 
brought into close and intimate contact by the claims of a 
common humanity. They were united by the common 
effort to soften the last journey for Augustina, by all the 
little tendernesses and cares that a sick room imposes, by 
the pities and charities, the small renascent hopes and 
fears of each successive day and night. 

But all the while, how deeply were they divided ! how 
sharp was the clash between the reviving strength of pas- 
sion, which could not but feed itself on the daily sight and 
contact of the beloved person, and those facts of character 
and individuality which held them separated ! facts 
which are always, and in all cases, the true facts of this 


In Helbeck the shock of Laura's October flight had 
worked with profound and transforming power. After 
those first desperate days in which he had merely sought to 
recover her, to break down her determination, or to under, 
stand if he could the grounds on which she had .acted, a 
new conception of his own life and the meaning of it had 
taken possession of him. He fell into the profoundest 
humiliation and self-abasement, denouncing himself as a 
traitor to his faith, who out of mere self-delusion, and a 
lawless love of ease, had endangered his own obedience, 
and neglected the plain task laid upon him. That fear of 
proselytism, that humble dread of his own influence, 
which had once determined his whole attitude towards 
those about him, began now to seem to him mere wretched 
cowardice and self-will the caprice of the servant who 
tries to better his master's instructions. 

But now I cast that finer sense 

And sorer shame aside ; 
Such dread of sin was indolence, 

Such aim at heaven was pride. 

Again and again he said to himself that if he had 
struck at once for the Church and for the Faith at the 
moment when Laura's young heart was first opened to 
him, when under the earliest influences of her love for him 
how could he doubt that she had loved him ! her nature 
was still plastic, still capable of being won to God, as it 
were, by a coup demain might not would not all have 
been well ? But no ! he must needs believe that God 
had given her to him for ever, that there was room for all 
the gradual softening, the imperceptible approaches by 
which he had hoped to win her. It had seemed to him the 
process could not be too gentle, too indulgent. And mean- 
while the will and mind that might have been captured 
at a rush had time to harden the forces of revolt to gather. 


What wonder ? Oh ! blind infatuate ! How could he 
have hoped to bring her, still untouched, within the circle 
of his Catholic life, into contact with its secrets and its 
renunciations, without recoil on her part, without risk of 
what had actually happened? The strict regulation of 
every hour, every habit, every thought, at which he aimed 
as a Catholic what could it seem to her but a dreary and 
forbidding tyranny ? to her who had no clue to it, who 
was still left free, though she loved him, to judge his faith 
coldly from outside ? And when at last he had begun to 
drop hesitation, to change his tone then, it was too 

Tyranny ! She had used that word once or twice, in 
that first letter which had reached him on the evening of 
her flight, and in a subsequent one. Not of any thing 
that had been, apparently but of that which might be. 
It had wounded him to the very quick. 

And yet, in truth, the course of his present thoughts 
plainly interpreted meant little else than this that if, at 
the right moment, he had coerced her with success, they 
might both have been happy. 

Later on he had seen his own self-judgment reflected 
in the faces, the consolations of his few intimate friends. 
Father Leadham, for instance whose letters had been his 
chief support during a period of dumb agony when he had 
felt himself more than once on the brink of some morbid 
trouble of brain. 

' I found her adamant,' said Father Leadham. ' Never 
was I so powerless with any human soul. She would not 
discuss anything. She would only say that she was born 
in freedom and free she would remain. All that I urged 
upon her implied beliefs in which she had not been 
brought up, which were not her father's and were not 
hers. Nor on closer experience had she been any more 
drawn to them quite the contrary ; whatever and there, 


poor child ! her eyes filled with tears whatever she might 
feel towards those who held them. She said fiercely 
that you had never argued with her or persuaded her 
or perhaps only once; that you had promised this 
with an indignant look at me that there should be no 
pressure upon her. And I could but feel sadly, dear 
friend, that you only, under our Blessed Lord, could have 
influenced her ; and that you, by some deplorable mistake 
of judgment, had been led to feel that it was wrong to do 
so. And if ever, I will even venture to say, violence 
spiritual violence, the violence that taketh by storm 
could have been justified, it would have been in this case. 
Her affections were all yours ; she was, but for you and 
her stepmother, alone in the world; and amid all her 
charms and gifts, a soul more starved and destitute I 
never met with. May our Lord and His Immaculate 
Mother strengthen you to bear your sorrow 1 For your 
friends, there are and must be consolations in this cata- 
strophe. The cross that such a marriage would have laid 
upon you must have been heavy indeed.' 

Harassed by such thoughts and memories Helbeck 
passed through these strange, these miserable days when 
he and Laura were once more under the same roof, living 
the same household life. Like Laura, he clung to every 
hour ; like Laura, he found it almost more than he could 
bear. He suffered now with a fierceness, a moroseness, 
unknown to him of old. Every permitted mortification 
that could torment the body or humble the mind he 
brought into play during these weeks, and still could not 
prevent himself from feeling every sound of Laura's voice 
and every rustle of her dress as a rough touch upon a 

What was in her mind all the time behind those 
clear indomitable eyes ? He dared not let liimself think 


of the signs of grief that were written so plainly on her 
delicate face and frame. One day he found himself look- 
ing at her from a distance in a passionate bewilderment. 
So white so sad ! For what ? What was this freedom, 
this atrocious freedom that a creature so fragile, so unfit 
to wield it, had yet claimed so fatally ? His thoughts fell 
back to Stephen Fountain, cursing an influence at once 
so intangible and so strong. 

It was some relief that they were in no risk of tete-d- 
t&te outside Augustina's sick room. One or other of the 
nurses was always present at meals. And on the day 
after Laura's arrival Father Leadham appeared and 
stayed for ten days. 

The relations of the Jesuit towards Miss Fountain 
during this time were curious. It was plain to Helbeck 
that Father Leadham treated the girl with a new respect, 
and that she on her side showed herself much more at 
ease with him than she had used to be. It was as though 
they had tested each other, with the result that each had 
found in the other something nobler and sincerer than 
they had expected to find. Laura might be spiritually 
destitute ; but it was evident that since his conversation 
with her, Father Leadham had realised for the first time 
the ' charms and gifts ' which might be supposed to have 
captured Mr. Helbeck. 

So that when they met at meals, or in the invalid's 
room, the Jesuit showed Miss Fountain a very courteous 
attention. He was fresh from Cambridge; he brought 
her gossip of her friends and acquaintances; he said 
pleasant things of the Friedlands. She talked in return 
with an ease that astonished Helbeck and his sister. She 
seemed to both to have grown years older. 

It was the same with all the other Catholic haunters 
of the house. For the first time she discovered how to 


get on with the Keverend Mother, even with Sister Angela 
how not to find Father Bowles himself too wearisome. 
She moved among them with a dignity, perhaps an in- 
difference, that changed her wholly. 

Once, when she had been chatting in the friendliest 
way with the Keverend Mother, she paused for a moment 
in the passage outside Augustina's room, amazed at her- 

It was liberty, no doubt this strange and desolate 
liberty in which she stood, that made the contrast. By 
some obscure association she fell on the words that 
Helbeck had once quoted to her how differently ! ' My 
soul is escaped like a bird out of the snare of the fowler ; 
the snare is broken, and we are delivered.' 

' Ah ! but the bird's wings are broken and its breast 
pierced. What can it do with its poor freedom ? ' she 
said to herself, in a passion of tears. 

Meanwhile, she realised the force of the saying that 
Catholicism is the faith to die in. 

The concentration of all these Catholic minds upon 
the dying of Augustina, the busy fraternal help evoked by 
every stage of her via dolorosa, was indeed marvellous to 
see. ' It is a work of art,' Laura thought, with that new 
power of observation which had developed in her. ' It is 
it must be the most wonderful thing of its sort in the 
world 1 ' 

For it was no mere haphazard series of feelings or 
kindnesses. It was an act a function this ' good death ' 
on which the sufferer and those who assisted her were 
equally bent. Something had to be done, a process to be 
gone through; and everyone was anxiously bent upon 
doing it in the right, the prescribed, way upon omitting 
nothing. The physical fact indeed became comparatively 
unimportant, except as the evoking cause of certain 


symbolisms nay, certain actual and direct contacts be- 
tween earth and heaven, which were the distraction of 
death itself which took precedence of it, and reduced it 
to insignificance. 

When Father Leadham left, Father Bowles came to 
stay in the house, and communion was given to Mrs. 
Fountain every day. Two or three times a week, also, 
mass was said in her room. Laura assisted once or twice 
at these scenes the blaze of lights and flowers in the old 
panelled room the altar adorned with splendid fittings 
brought from the chapel below the small blanched face 
in the depths of the great tapestried bed the priest bend- 
ing over it. 

On one of these occasions, in the early morning, when 
the candles on the altar were almost effaced by the first 
brilliance of a May day, Laura stole away from the 
darkened room where Mrs. Fountain lay soothed and 
sleeping, and stood for long at an open window overlooking 
the wild valley outside. 

She was stifled by the scent of flowers and burning 
wax ; still more, mentally oppressed. The leaping river, 
the wide circuit of the fells, the blowing of the May wind ! 
to them, in a great reaction, the girl gave back her soul, 
passionately resting in them. They were no longer a joy 
and intoxication. But the veil lifted between her and 
them. They became a sanctuary and refuge. 

From the Martha of the old faith, so careful and 
troubled about many things sins and penances, creeds 
and sacraments, the miraculous hauntings of words and 
objects, of water and wafer, of fragments of bone and stuff, 
of scapulars and medals, of crucifixes and indulgences 
her mind turned to this Mary of a tameless and patient 
nature, listening and loving in the sunlight. 

Only, indeed, to destroy her own fancy as soon as 
woven ! Nature was pain and combat too, no less than 


Faith. But here, at least, was no jealous lesson to be 
learnt ; no exclusions, no conditions. Her rivers were 
deep and clear for all ; her ' generous sun ' was lit for all. 
What she promised she gave. Without any preliminary 
credo, her colours glowed, her breezes blew for the un- 
happy. Oh ! such a purple shadow on the fells such a 
red glory of the oak-twigs in front of it such a white 
sparkle of the Greet, parting the valley ! 

What need of any other sacrament or sign than these 
this beauty and bounty of the continuing world ? In- 
deed, Friedland had once said to her, ' The joy that Catho- 
lics feel in the sacrament, the plain believer in God will 
get day by day out of the simplest things out of a gleam 
on the hills a purple in the distance a light on the 
river ; still more out of any tender or heroic action.' 

She thought very wistfully of her old friend and his 
talk ; but here also with a strange sense of distance, of 
independence. How the river dashed and raced ! There 
had been wild nights of rain amid this May beauty, and 
the stream was high. Day by day, of late, she had made 
it her comrade. Whenever she left Augustina it was 
always to wander beside it, or to sit above it, cradled and 
lost in that full triumphant song it went uttering to the 

But there was a third person in the play, by no means 
so passive an actor as Laura was wont to imagine 

There is often a marvellous education in such a tedious 
parting with the world as Augustina was enduring. If the 
physical conditions allow it, the soul of the feeblest will 
acquire a new dignity, and perceptions more to the point. 
As she lay looking at the persons who surrounded her, 
Augustina passed without an effort, and yet wonderfully, 
as it seemed to her, into a new stage of thought and desire 


about them. A fresh, an eager ambition sprang up in her, 
partly of the woman, partly of the believer. She had been 
blind ; now she saw. She felt the power of her weakness, 
and she would seize it. 

Meanwhile, she made a rally which astonished all 
the doctors. Towards the end of the second week in May 
she had recovered strength so far that on several occasions 
she was carried down the chapel passage to the garden, 
and placed in a sheltered corner of the beech hedge, where 
she could see the bright turf of the bowling-green and 
the distant trees of the ' Wilderness.' 

One afternoon Helbeck came out to sit with her. He 
was no sooner there than she became so restless that he 
asked her if he should recall Sister Eosa, who had retired 
to a distant patch of shade. 

' No no ! Alan, I want to say something. Will you 
raise my pillow a little ? ' 

He did so, and she looked at him for a moment with 
her haunting blue eyes without speaking. But at last 
she said : 

' Where is Laura ? ' 

' Indoors, I believe.' 

' Don't call her. I have been talking to her, Alan, 
about about what she means to do.' 

' Did she tell you her plans ? ' 

He spoke very calmly, holding his sister's hand. 

' She doesn't seem to have any. The Friedlands have 
offered her a home, of course. Alan ! will you put your 
ear down to me ? ' 

He stooped, and she whispered brokenly, holding him 
several times when he would have drawn back. 

But at last he released himself. A flush had stolen 
over his fine and sharpened features. 

1 My dear sister, if it were so what difference can it 


He spoke with a quick interrogation. But his glance 
had an intensity, it expressed a determination, which 
made her cry out 

1 Alan if she gave way ? ' 

I She will never give way. She has more self-control ; 
but her mind is in precisely the same bitter and envenomed 
state. Indeed, she has grown more fixed, more convinced. 
The influence of her Cambridge friends has been decisive. 
Every day I feel for what she has to bear and put up 
with poor child ! in this house.' 

' It can't be for long,' said Augustina with tears ; and 
she lay for awhile, pondering, and gathering force. But 
presently she made her brother stoop to her again. 

' Alan please listen to me ! If Laura did become a 
Catholic is there anything in the way anything you 
can't undo ? ' 

He raised himself quickly. He would have suffered 
these questions from no one else. The stern and irritable 
temper that he inherited from his father had gained fast 
upon the old self-control since the events of October. 
Even now, with Augustina, he was short. 

' I shall take no vows, dear, before the time. But it 
would please me it would console me if you would put 
all these things out of your head. I see the will of God 
very plainly. Let us submit to it.' 

' It hurts me so to see you suffer ! ' she said, looking 
at him piteously. 

He bent over the grass, struggling for composure. 

I 1 shall have something else to do before long,' he 
said in a low voice, ' than to consider my own happiness.' 

She was framing another question when there was a 
sound of footsteps on the gravel behind them. 

Augustina exclaimed, with the agitation of weakness, 
1 Don't let any visitors come ! ' Helbeck looked a 
moment in astonishment, then his face cleared. 

F P 


' Augustina ! it is the relic from the Carmelite 
nuns. I recognise their Confessor.' 

Augustina clasped her hands ; and Sister Eosa, obey- 
ing Helbeck's signal, came quickly over to her. Mr. 
Helbeck bared his head and walked over the grass to meet 
the strange priest, who was carrying a small leather box. 

Soon there was a happy group round Augustina's 
couch. The Confessor who had brought this precious 
relic of St. John of the Cross had opened the case, and 
placed the small and delicate reliquary that it contained 
in Mrs. Fountain's hands. She lay clasping it to her 
breast, too weak to speak, but flushed with joy. The 
priest, a southern-eyed kindly man, with an astonishing 
flow of soft pietistic talk, sat beside her, speaking sooth- 
ingly of the many marvels of cure or conversion that had 
been wrought by the treasure she held. He was going 
on to hold a retreat at a convent of the order near Fros- 
wick, and would return, he said, by Bannisdale in a 
week's time, to reclaim his charge. The nuns, he re- 
peated with gentle emphasis, had never done such an 
honour to any sick person before. But for Mr. Helbeck's 
sister nothing was too much. And a novena had already 
bsen started at the convent. The nuns were praying 
praying hard that the relic might do its holy work. 

He was still talking when there was a step and a 
sound of low singing behind the beech hedge. The 
garden was so divided by gigantic hedges of the eigh- 
teenth century, which formed a kind of Greek cross in its 
centre, that many different actions or conversations might 
be taking place in it without knowing anything one of 
another. Laura, who had been away for an hour, was not 
aware that Augustina was in the garden till she came 
through a little tunnel in the hedge, and saw the group. 

The priest looked up, startled by the appearance of the 
young lady. Laura had marked the outburst of waim 


"weather by the donning of a white dress and her summer 
hat. In one hand she held a bunch of lilac that she had 
been gathering for her stepmother ; in the other a volume 
of a French life of St. Theresa that she had taken an 
hour before from Augustina's table. In anticipation of 
the great favour promised her by the Carmelite nuns, 
Augustina had been listening feebly from time to time to 
her brother's reading from the biography of the greatest 
of Carmelite saints and founders. 

' Laura ! ' said Mrs. Fountain faintly. 

Helbeck's expression changed. He bent over his 
sister, and said in a low decided voice, ' Will you give me 
the relic, dear ? I will return it to its case.' 

' Oh no, Alan/ she said imploring. ' Laura, do you 
know what those kind dear nuns have done ? They have 
sent me their relic. And I feel so much better already 
so relieved ! ' Mrs. Fountain raised the little case and 
kissed it fervently. Then she held it out for Laura to 

The girl bent over it in silence. 

' What is it ? ' she said. 

1 It is a relic of St. John of the Cross,' said the priest 
opposite, glancing curiously at Miss Fountain. ' It once 
belonged to the treasury of the Cathedral of Seville, and 
was stolen during the great war. But it has been now 
formally conveyed to our community by the Archbishop 
and Chapter.' 

' Wasn't it kind of the dear nuns, Laura ? ' said 
Augustina fervently. 

1 1 I suppose so,' said Laura, in a low embarrassed 
voice. Helbeck, who was watching her, saw that she 
could hardly restrain the shudder of repulsion that ran 
through her. 

Her extraordinary answer threw a silence on the party. 
The tears started to the sick woman's cheeks. The priest 


rose to take his leave. Mrs. Fountain asked him for an 
absolution and a blessing. He gave them, coldly bowed 
to Laura, shook hands with Sister Eosa, and took his 
departure, Helbeck conducting him. 

' Oh, Laura ! ' said Mrs. Fountain reproachfully. 
The girl's lips were quite white. She knelt down by her 
stepmother and kissed her hand. 

' Dear, I wouldn't have hurt you for the world ! It 
was something I had been reading it it seemed to me 
horrible ! just for a moment. Of course I'm glad it com- 
forts you, poor darling ! of course of course, I am ! ' 

Mrs. Fountain was instantly appeased for herself. 

1 But Alan felt it so,' she said restlessly, as she closed 
her eyes ' what you said. I saw his face.' 

It was time for the invalid to be moved, and Sister 
Eosa had gone for help. Laura was left for a moment 
kneeling by her stepmother. No one could see her ; the 
penitence and pain in the girl's feeling showed in her 
pallor, her pitiful dropping lip. 

Helbeck was heard returning. Laura looked up. In- 
stinctively she rose and proudly drew herself together. 
Never yet had she seen that face so changed. It breathed 
the sternest, most concentrated anger a storm of feeling 
that, in spite of the absolute silence that held it in curb, yet 
so communicated itself to her that her heart seemed to 
fail in her breast. 

A few minutes later Miss Fountain, having gathered 
together a few scattered possessions of the invalid, was 
passing through the chapel passage. A step approached 
from the hall, and Helbeck confronted her. 

' Miss Fountain may I ask you a kindness ? ' 

What a tone of steel ! Her shoulders straightened her 
look met his in a common flash. 

' Augustina is weak. Spare her discussion the sort 


of discussion with which, no doubt, your Cambridge life 
makes you familiar. It can do nothing here, and ' he 
paused, only to resume unflinchingly ' the dying should 
not be disturbed.' 

Laura wavered in the dark passage like one mortally 
struck. His pose as the protector of his sister the 
utter distance and alienation of his tone unjust ! in- 
credible ! 

' I discussed nothing,' she said, breathing fast. 

' You might be drawn to do so,' he said coldly. ' Your 
contempt for the practices that sustain and console Catho- 
lics is so strong that no one can mistake the difficulty you 
have in concealing it. But I would ask you to conceal it, 
for her sake.' 

' I thank you,' she said quietly, as she swept past him, 
4 But you are mistaken.' 

She walked away from him and mounted the stairs, 
without another word. 

Laura sat crouched and rigid in her own room. How 
had it happened, this horrible thing ? this break-down of 
the last vestiges and relics of the old relation this rushing 
in of a temper and a hostility that stunned her ! 

She looked at the book on her knee. Then she 
remembered. In the ' Wilderness ' she had been reading 
that hideous account which appears in all the longer 
biographies, of the mutilation of St. Theresa's body three 
years after her death by some relic-hunting friars from 
Avila. In a ruthless haste, these pious thieves had lifted the 
poor embalmed corpse from its resting-place at Alba ; they 
had cut the old woman's arm from the shoulder ; they had 
left it behind in the rifled coffin, and then hastily huddling 
up the body, they had fled southwards with their booty, 
while the poor nuns who had loved and buried their dead 
4 mother,' who had been shut by a trick into their own 


choir while the awful thing was done, were still singing 
the office, ignorant and happy. 

The girl had read the story with sickening. Then 
Augustina had held up to her the relic-case, with that 
shrivelled horror inside it. A finger, was it ? or a portion 
of one. Perhaps torn from some poor helpless one in the 
same way. And to such aids and helps must a human 
heart come in dying ! 

She had not been quick enough to master herself. 
Oh ! that was wrong very wrong. But had it deserved 
a stroke so cruel so unjust ? 

Oh ! miserable, miserable religion ! Her wild nature 
rose against it accused denounced it. 

That night Augustina was marvellously well. She 
lay with the relic-case beside her in a constant happi- 

' Oh, Laura ! Laura, dear ! even you must see what it 
has done for me ! ' 

So she whispered, when Sister Eosa had withdrawn 
into the next room and she and Laura were left together. 

' I am so glad,' said the girl gently, ' so very glad.' 

' You are so dreadfully pale, Laura ! ' 

Laura said nothing. She raised the poor hand she 
held, and laid it softly against her cheek. Augustina 
looked at her wistfully. Gradually her resolution rose. 

' Laura, I must say it God tells me to say it ! ' 

' What ! dear Augustina ? ' 

'Laura you could save Alan! you could alter his 
whole life. And you are breaking his heart ! ' 

Laura stared at her, letting the hand slowly drop 
upon the bed. What was happening in this strange, 
strange world ? 

' Laura, come here ! I can't bear it. He suffers so I 
You don't see it, but I do. He has the look of my 


father when my mother died. I know that he will go to 
the Jesuits. They will quiet him, and pray for him and 
prayer saves you. But you, Laura you might save him 
another way oh! I must call it a happier way.' She 
looked up piteously to the crucifix that hung on the wall 
opposite. 'You thought me unkind when you were 
engaged I know you did. I didn't know what to think 
I was so upset by it all. But, oh ! how I have prayed 
since I came back that he might marry, and have children 
and a little happiness. He is not forty yet and he 
has had a hard life. How he will be missed here, too ! 
Who can ever take his place ? Why, he has made it all ! 
And he loves his work. Of course I see that now 
he thinks it a sin what happened last year your 
engagement. But all the same, he can't tear his heart 
away from you. I can't understand it. It seems to me 
almost terrible to love as he loves you.' 

'Dear Augustina, don't don't say such things.' 
The girl fell on her knees beside her stepmother. Her 
pride was broken ; her face convulsed. ' Why, you don't 
know, dear ! He has lost all love for me. He says 
hard things to me even. He judges me like like a 
stranger.' She looked at Augustina imploringly through 
her tears. 

' Did he scold you just now about the relic ? But it 
was becaitse it was you. Nobody else could have made 
him angry about such a thing. Why, he would have 
just laughed and pitied them ! you know he would. But 
you oh, Laura, you torture him ! ' 

Laura hid her face, shaking with the sobs she tried to 
control. Her heart melted within her. She thought of 
that marked book upon his table. 

1 And Laura,' said the sighing thread of a voice, ' how 
can you be wiser than all the Church ? all these genera- 
tions ? Just think, dear ! you against the Saints and the 


Fathers, and the holy martyrs and confessors, from our 
Lord's time till now ! Oh ! your poor father. I know. 
But he never came near the faith, Laura how could he 
judge ? It was not offered to him. That was my wicked 
fault. If I had been faithful I might have gained my 
husband. But, Laura '- the voice grew so eager and 
sharp ' we judge no one. We must believe for ourselves 
the Church is the only way. But God is so merciful! 
But you it is offered to you, Laura. And Alan's love 
with it. Just so little on your part the Church is so 
tender, so indulgent ! She does not expect a perfect 
faith all at once. One must just make the step blindly 
obey throw oneself into her arms. Father Leadham 
said so to me one day not minding what one thinks and 
believes not looking at oneself just obeying and it 
will all come ! ' 

But Laura could not speak. Little Augustina, full of 
a pleading, an apostolic strength, looked at her tenderly. 

' He hardly sleeps, Laura. As I lie awake, I hear him 
moving about at all hours. I said to Father Leadham 
the other day "his heart is broken. When you take 
him, he will be able to do what you tell him, perhaps. 
But for this world it will be like a dead man ? " And 
Father Leadham did not deny it. He knows it is true.' 

And thus, so long as her poor strength lasted, Augus- 
tina lay and whispered reporting all the piteous history 
of those winter months things that Laura had never 
heard and never dreamed a tale of grief so profound and 
touching that, by the time it ended, every landmark was 
uprooted in the girl's soul, and she was drifting on a vast 
tide of pity and passion, whither she knew not. 



THE next day there was no outing for Augustina. The 
south-west wind was again let loose upon the valley and 
the moss, with violent rain from the sea. In the grass 
the daffodils lay all faded and brown. But the blue-bells 
were marching fast over the copses as though they 
sprang in the traces of the rain. 

Laura sat working beside Augustina, or reading to 
her, from morning till dark. Mr. Helbeck had gone into 
Whinthorpe as usual before breakfast, and was not 
expected home till the evening. Mrs. Fountain was 
perhaps more restless and oppressed than she had been 
the day before. But she would hardly admit it. She lay 
with the relic beside her, and took the most hopeful view 
possible of all her symptoms. 

Miss Fountain herself that day was in singular beauty. 
The dark circles round her eyes did but increase their 
brilliance; the hot fire in Augustina's rooms made her 
cheeks glow ; and the bright blue cotton of her dress had 
been specially chosen by Molly Friedland to set off the 
gold of her hair. 

She was gay too, to Augustina's astonishment. She 
told stories of Daffady and the farm ; she gossiped with 
Sister Eosa; she alternately teased and coaxed Fricka. 
Sister Eosa had been a little cool to her at first after the 
affair of the relic. But Miss Fountain was so charming 
this afternoon, so sweet to her stepmother, so amiable to 
other people, that the little nurse could not resist her. 


And at regular intervals she would walk to the window, 
and report to Augustina the steady rising of the river. 

'It has flooded all that flat bank opposite the first 
seat and of that cattle-rail, that bar what do you call 
it ? just at the bend you can only see the very top 
line. And such a current under the otter cliff! It's 
splendid, Augustina ! it's magnificent ! ' 

And she would turn her flushed face to her stepmother 
in a kind of triumph. 

'It will wash away the wooden bridge if it goes 
on,' said Augustina plaintively, ' and destroy all the 

But Laura seemed to exult in it. If it had not been 
for the curb of Mrs. Fountain's weakness, she could not 
have kept still at all as the evening drew on, and the roar 
of the water became continuously audible even in this 
high room. And yet every now and then it might perhaps 
have been thought that she was troubled or annoyed by 
the sound that it prevented her from hearing something 

Mrs. Fountain did not know how to read her. Once, 
when they were alone, she tried to reopen the subject of 
the night before. But Laura would not even allow it to 
be approached. To-day she had the lightest, softest ways 
of resistance. But they were enough. 

Mrs. Fountain could only sigh and yield. 

Towards seven o'clock she began to fidget about her 
brother. 'He certainly meant to be home for dinner,' 
she said several times, with increasing peevishness. 

' I am going to have dinner here ! ' said Laura, smiling. 

' Why ? ' said Augustina, astonished. 
' Oh ! let me, dear. Mr. Helbeck is sure to be late. 
And Sister Eosa will look after him. Teaching Fricka 
has made me as hungry as that ! ' and she opened her 
hands wide, as a child measures. 


Augustina looked at her sadly, but said nothing. She 
remembered that the night before, too, Laura would not 
go downstairs. 

The little meal went gaily. Just as it was over, and 
while Laura was still chattering to her stepmother as she 
had not chattered for months, a step was heard in the 

' Ah ! there is Alan ! ' cried Mrs. Fountain. 

The squire came in tired and mud-stained. Even his 
hair shone with rain, and his clothes were wet through. 

'I must not come too near you,' he said, standing 
beside the door. 

Mrs. Fountain bade him dress, get some dinner, and 
come back to her. As she spoke, she saw him peering 
through the shadows of the room. She too looked round. 
Laura was gone. 

' At the first sound of his step ! ' thought Augustina. 
And she wept a little, but so secretly that even Sister 
Rosa did not discover it. Her ambition her poor 
ambition was for herself alone. What chance had it ? 
alas ! Never since Stephen's death surely had Augustina 
seen Laura shed such tears as she had shed the night 
before. But no words, no promises nothing! And 
where, now, was any sign of it ? 

She drew out her beads for comfort. And so, sighing 
and praying, she fell asleep. 

After supper Helbeck was in the hall smoking. He 
was half abashed that he should find so much comfort in 
his pipe, and that he should dread so much the prospect 
of giving it up. 

His thoughts, however, were black enough black as 
the windy darkness outside. 

A step on the stairs at which his breath leapt. Miss 
Fountain, in her white evening dress, was descending. 


' May I speak to you, Mr. Helbsck ? ' 

He flung down his pipe and approached her. She 
stood a little above him on one of the lower steps ; and 
instantly he felt that she came in gentleness. 

An agitation he could barely control took possession of 
him. All day long he had been scourging himself for the 
incident of the night before. They had not met since. 
He looked at her now humbly with a deep sadness and 
waited for what she had to say. 

'Shall we go into the drawing-room? Is there a 

' We will take one.' 

He lifted a lamp, and she led the way. Without 
another word, she opened the door into the deserted room. 
Nobody had entered it since the Orphanage function, when 
some extra service had been hastily brought in to make the 
house habitable. The mass of the furniture was gathered 
into the centre of the carpet, with a few tattered sheets 
flung across it. The gap made by the lost Eomney spoke 
from the wall, and the windows stood uncurtained to the 

Laura, however, found a chair and sank into it. He 
put down the lamp, and stood expectant. 

They were almost in their old positions. How to find 
strength and voice ! That room breathed memories. 

When she did speak, however, her intonation was 
peculiarly firm and clear. 

1 You gave me a rebuke last night, Mr. Helbeck and 
I deserved it ! ' 

He made a sudden movement a movement which 
seemed to trouble her. 

' No ! don't ! ' she raised her hand involuntarily 
1 don't please say anything to make it easier for me. I gave 
you great pain. You were right oh ! quite right to 
express it. But you know ' 


She broke off suddenly. 

' You know, I can't talk if you stand there like that 1 
Won't you come here, and sit down ' she pointed to a 
chair near her ' as if we were friends still. We can be 
friends, can't we ? We ought to be for Augustina's sake. 
And I very much want to discuss with you seriously 
what I have to say.' 

He obeyed her. He came to sit beside her, recovering 
his composure bending forward that he might give her 
his best attention. 

She paused a moment knitting her brows. 

'I thought afterwards, a long time, of what had 
happened. I talked, too, to Augustina. She was much 
distressed she appealed to me. And I saw a great deal 
of force in what she said. She pointed out that it was 
absurd for me to judge before I knew ; that I never 
never had been willing to know ; that everything even 
the Catholic Church' she smiled faintly 'takes some 
learning. She pleaded with me and what she said 
touched me very much. I do not know how long I may 
have to stay in your house and with her. I would not 
willingly cause you pain. I would gladly understand, 
at least, more than I do I should like to learn to be 
instructed. Would would Father Leadham, do you 
think, take the trouble to correspond with me to point 
me out the books, for instance, that I might read ? ' 

Helbeck's black eyes fastened themselves upon her. 

1 You you would like to correspond with Father 
Leadham ? ' he repeated, in stupefaction. 

She nodded. Involuntarily she began a little angry 
beating with her foot that he knew well. It was always 
the protest of her pride, when she could not prevent the 
tears from showing themselves. 

He controlled himself. He turned his chair so as to 
come within an easy talking distance. 


' Will you pardon me,' he said quietly, ' if I ask for 
more information ? Did you only determine on this last 
night ? ' 

' I think so.' 

He hesitated. 

' It is a serious step, Miss Fountain ! You should not 
take it only from pity for Augustina only from a wish to 
give her comfort in dying ! ' 

She turned away her face a little. That penetrating 
look pierced too deeply. ' Are there not many motives ? ' 
she said, rather hoarsely ' many ways ? I want to give 
Augustina a happiness and and to satisfy many ques- 
tions of my own. Father Leadham is bound to teach, is 
he not, as a priest ? He could lose nothing by it.' 

' Certainly he is bound,' said Helbeck. 

He dropped his head, and stared at the carpet, thinking. 

' He would recommend you some books, of course.' 

The same remembrance flew through both. Absently 
and involuntarily, Helbeck shook his head, with a sad lift- 
ing of the eyebrows. The colour rushed into Laura's 

' It must be something very simple,' she said hurriedly. 
' Not " Lives of the Saints," I think, and not " Catechisms " 
or " Outlines." Just a building up from the beginning by 
somebody who found it hard, very hard, to believe and 
yet did believe. But Father Leadham will know of 
course he would know.' 

Helbeck was silent. It suddenly appeared to him the 
strangest, the most incredible conversation. He felt the 
rise of a mad emotion the beating in his breast choked him. 

Laura rose, and he heard her say in low and wavering 

' Then I will write to him to-morrow if you think I 

He sprang to his feet, and as she passed him the 


fountains of his being broke up. With a wild gesture he 
caught her in his arms. 

' Laura ! ' 

It was not the cry of his first love for her. It was a 
cry under which she shuddered. But she submitted at 
once. Nay, with a womanly tenderness how unlike 
that old shrinking Laura she threw her arm round his 
neck, she buried her little head in his breast. 

' Oh, how long you were in understanding ! ' she said 
with a deep sigh. ' How long ! ' 

' Laura ! what does it mean ? my head turns ! ' 

'It means it means that you shall never never 
again speak to me as you did yesterday ; that either you 
must love me or well, I must just die ! ' she gave a little 
sharp sobbing laugh. ' I have tried other things and 
they can't they can't be borne. And if you can't love 
me unless I am a Catholic now, I know you wouldn't 
I must just be a Catholic if any power in the world can 
make me one. Why, Father Leadham can persuade me 
he must ! ' She drew away from him, holding him, 
almost fiercely, by her two small hands. ' I am nothing 
but an ignorant, foolish girl. And he has persuaded so 
many wise people you have often told me. Oh, he must 
he must persuade me 1 ' 

She hid herself again on his breast. Then she looked 
up, feeling the tears on his cheek. 

' But you'll be very, very patient with me won't you ? 
Oh ! I'm so dead to all those things ! But if I say what- 
ever you want me to say if I do what is required of me 
you won't ask me too many questions you won't press 
me too hard ? You'll trust to my being yours to my 
growing into your heart ? Oh ! how did I ever bear the 
agony of tearing myself away ! ' 

It was an ecstasy a triumph. But it seemed to him 
afterwards in looking back upon it, that all through it was 


also an anguish ! The revelation of the woman's nature, 
of all that had lived and burned in it since he last held her 
in his arms, brought with it for both of them such sharp 
pains of expansion, such an agony of experience and 

Very soon, however, she grew calmer. She tried to 
tell him what had happened to her since that black 
October day. But conversation was not altogether easy. 
She had to rush over many an hour and many a thought 
dreading to remember. And again and again he could 
not rid himself of the image of the old Laura, or could 
not fathom the new. It was like stepping from the firmer 
ground of the moss on to the softer patches where foot 
and head lost themselves. He could see her as she had 
been, or as he had believed her to be, up to twenty-four 
hours before the little enemy and alien in the house ; or 
as she had lived beside him those four months troubled, 
petulant, exacting. But this radiant, tender Laura 
with this touch of feverish extravagance in her love and 
her humiliation she bewildered him ; or rather she 
roused a new response ; he must learn new ways of 
loving her. 

Once, as he was holding her hand, she looked at him 

1 You would have left Bannisdale, wouldn't you ? ' 

He quickly replied that he had been in correspondence 
with his old Jesuit friends. But he would not dwell upon 
it. There was a kind of shame in the subject, that he 
would not have had her penetrate. A devout Catholic 
does not dwell for months on the prospects and secrets of 
the religious life to put them easily and in a moment out of 
his hand even at the call of the purest and most legiti- 
mate passion. From the Counsels, the soul returns to 
the Precepts. The higher, supremer test is denied it. 


There is humbling in that a bitter taste, not to be 

Perhaps she did penetrate it. She asked him hurriedly 
if he regretted anything. She could so easily go away 
again for ever. ' I could do it I could do it now ! ' 
she said, firmly. ' Since you kissed me. You could 
always be my friend.' 

He smiled, and raised her hands to his lips. ' Where 
thou livest, dear, I will live, and where ' 

She withdrew a hand, and quickly laid it on his 

' No not to-night ! We have been so full of 
death all these weeks ! Oh ! how I want to tell Augus- 
tina ! ' 

But she did not move. She could not tear herself 
from this comfortless room this strange circle of melan- 
choly light in which they sat this beating of the rain in 
their ears as it dashed against the old and fragile case- 

1 Oh ! my dear,' he said suddenly, as he watched her, 
' I have grown so old and cross. And so poor ! It has 
taken far more than the picture ' he pointed to the vacant 
space 'to carry me through this six months. My schemes 
have been growing what motive had I for holding my 
hand ? My friends have often remonstrated the Jesuits 
especially. But at last I have had my way. I have far 
far less to offer you than I had before.' 

He looked at her in a sad apology. 

' I have a little money,' she said shyly. ' I don't 
believe you ever knew it before.' 

1 Have you ? ' he said in astonishment. 

' Just a tiny bit. I shall pay my way ' and she laughed 
happily. ' Alan ! have you noticed how well I have 
been getting on with the Sisters ? what friends Father 
Lsadham and I made? But no! you didn't notice 

G O 


anything. You saw me all en noir all,' she repeated 
with a mournful change of voice. 

Then her eyelids fell, and she shivered. 

' Oh ! how you hurt how you hurt \ last night.' 

He passionately soothed her, denouncing himself, 
asking her pardon. She gave a long sigh. She had a 
strange sense of having climbed a long stair out of an 
abyss of misery. Now she was just at the top just 
within light and welcome. But the dark was so 
close behind one touch ! and she was thrust down to 
it again. 

' I have only hated two people this last six months,' 
she said at last, a propos, apparently, of nothing. ' Your 
cousin, who was to have Bannisdale and and Mr. 
Williams. I saw him at Cambridge.' 

There was a pause ; then Helbeck said, with an agita- 
tion that she felt beneath her cheek as her little head 
rested on his shoulder : 

'You saw Edward Williams? How did he dare to 
present himself to you ? ' 

He gently withdrew himself from her, and went to 
stand before the hearth, drawn up to his full stern height. 
His dark head and striking pale features were fitly seen 
against the background of the old wall. As he stood 
there he was the embodiment of his race, of its history, 
its fanaticisms, its ' great refusals ' at once of all mean 
joys and all new freedoms. To a few chosen notes in 
the universe, tender response and exquisite vibration to 
all others, deaf, hard, insensitive, as the stone of his old 

Laura looked at him with a mingled adoration and 
terror. Then she hastily explained how and where she 
had met Williams. 

' And you felt no sympathy for him ? ' said Helbeck, 


She flushed. 

1 1 knew what it must have been to you. And and 
he showed no sense of it.' 

Her tone was so simple, so poignant, that Helbeck 
smiled only that he might not weep. Hurriedly coming 
to her he kissed her soft hair. 

' There were temptations of his youth,' he said with 
difficulty, 'from which the Faith rescued him. Now 
these same temptations have torn him from the Faith. It 
has been all known to me from first to last. I see no 
hope. Let us never speak of him again.' 

' No,' she said, trembling. 

He drew a long breath. Suddenly he knelt beside her. 

' And you ! ' he said in a low voice ' you ! What 
love what sweetness shall be enough for you ! Oh ! 
my Laura, when I think of what you have done to-night 
of all that it means, all that it promises I humble 
myself before you. I envy and bless you. Yours has 
been no light struggle no small sacrifice. I can only 
marvel at it. Dear, the Church will draw you so softly 
teach you so tenderly ! You have never known a mother. 
Our Lady will be your Mother. You have had few 
friends they will be given to you in all times and 
countries and this will you are surrendering will come 
back to you strengthened a thousand-fold for my support 
and your own.' 

He looked at her with emotion. Oh ! how pale she 
had grown under these words of benediction. There 
was a moment's silence then she rose feebly. 

1 Now let me go ! To-morrow will you tell 
Augustina? Or to-night, if she were awake, and strong 
enough ? How can one be sure ? ' 

' Let us come and see.' 

He took her hand, and they moved a few steps across 
the room, when they were startled by the thunder of the 

a o2 


storm upon the windows. They stopped involuntarily. 
Laura's face lit up. 

' How the river roars ! I love it so. Yesterday I was 
on the top of the otter cliff when it was coming down in a 
torrent ! To-morrow it will be superb.' 

1 1 wish you wouldn't go there till I have had some 
fencing done,' said Helbeck with decision. 'The rain 
has loosened the moss and made it all slippery and un- 
safe. I saw some people gathering primroses there to-day, 
and I told Murphy to warn them off. We must put a 
railing ' 

Laura turned her face to the hall. 

' What was that ! ' she said, catching his arm. 

A sudden cry loud and piercing from the stairs. 

' Mr. Helbeck ! Miss Fountain ! ' 

They rushed into the hall. Sister Eosa ran towards 

' Oh ! Mr. Helbeck come at once Mrs. Fountain ' 

Augustina still sat propped in her large chair by the 

But a nurse looked up with a scared face as they 

' Oh come come Mr. Helbeck ! She is just going.' 

Laura threw herself on her knees beside her step- 
mother. Helbeck gave one look at his sister, then also 
kneeling he took her cold and helpless hand, and said in a 
steady voice 

' Eeceive thy servant, O Lord, into the place of salva- 
tion, which she hopes from Thy mercy.' 

The two nurses, sobbing, said the ' Amen.' 

1 Deliver, O Lord, the soul of thy servant from all the 
perils of hell, from pains and all tribulations.' 

' Amen.' 

Mrs. Fountain's head fell gently back upon the 


cushions. The eyes withdrew themselves in the manner 
that only death knows, the lids dropped partially. 

'Augustina dear Augustina give me one look?' 
cried Laura in despair. She wrapped her arms round 
her stepmother and laid her head on the poor wasted 

But Helbeck possessed himself of one of the girl's 
hands, and with his own right he made the sign of the 
Cross upon his sister's brow. 

'Depart, O Christian soul, from this world, in the 
name of God the Father Almighty, who created thee ; in 
the name of Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, who 
suffered for thee ; in the name of the Holy Ghost, who has 
been poured out upon thee ; in the name of the angels 
and archangels ; in the name of the thrones and domina- 
tions ; in the name of the principalities and powers ; in 
the name of the cherubim and seraphim ; in the name of 
the patriarchs and prophets; in the name of the holy 
apostles and evangelists ; in the name of the holy martyrs 
and confessors ; in the name of the holy monks and 
hermits ; in the name of the holy virgins, and of all the 
saints of God ; let thy place be this day in peace, and thy 
abode in the Holy Sion : through Christ our Lord. Amen.' 

There was silence, broken only by Laura's sobs and 
the nurses' weeping. Helbeck alone was quite composed. 
He gazed at his sister, not with grief rather with a deep 
mysterious joy. When he rose, still looking down upon 
Augustina, he questioned the nurses in low tones. 

There had been hardly any warning. Suddenly a 
stifled cry a gurgling in the throat a spasm. Sister 
Rosa thought she had distinguished the words ' Jesus ! 
' Alan ' but there had been no time for any message, any 
farewell. The doctors had once warned the brother that it 
was possible, though not likely, that the illness would end 
in this way. 


' Father Bowles gave her Communion this morning ? ' 
said Helbeck, with a grave exactness, like one informing 
himself of all necessary things. 

' This morning and yesterday,' said Sister Eosa 
eagerly; 'and dear Mrs. Fountain confessed on Satur- 

Laura rose from her knees and wrung her hands. 

' Oh ! I can't bear it ! ' she said to Helbeck. ' If I had 
been there if we could just have told her ! Oh, how 
strange how strange it is ! ' 

And she looked wildly about her, seized by an emotion, 
a misery that Helbeck could not altogether understand. 
He tried to soothe her, regardless of the presence of the 
nurses. Laura, too, did not think of them. But when he 
put his arm round her, she withdrew herself in a restless- 
ness that would not be controlled. 

' How strange how strange ! ' she repeated, as she 
looked down on the little blanched and stiffening face. 

Helbeck stooped and kissed the brow of the dead 

' If I had only loved her better ! ' he said with 

Laura stared at him. His words brought back to her 
a rush of memories Augustina's old fear of him those 
twelve years in which no member of the Fountain 
household had ever seen Mrs. Fountain's brother. So 
long as Augustina had been Stephen Fountain's wife she 
had been no less dead for Helbeck, her only brother, than 
she was now. 

The girl shuddered. She looked pitifully at the others. 

'Please please leave me alone with her a little! 
She was my father's wife my dear father's wife ! ' 

And again she sank on her knees, hiding her face 
against the dead. The nurses hesitated, but Helbeck 
thought it best to let her have her way. 


' We will go for half an hour,' he said, stooping to her. 
Then, in a whisper that only she could hear ' My Laura 
you are mine now let me soon come back and comfort 
you! ' 

When they returned they found Laura sitting on a 
stool beside her stepmother. One hand grasped that of 
Augustina while the other dropped listlessly in front of 
her. Her brow under its weight of curly hair hung 
forward. The rest of the little face almost disappeared 
behind the fixed and sombre intensity of the eyes. 

She took no notice when they came in, and it was 
Helbeck alone who could rouse her. He persuaded her 
to go, on a promise that the nurses would soon recall 

When all was ready she returned. Augustina was 
lying in a white pomp of candles and flowers ; the picture 
of the Virgin, the statue of St. Joseph, her little praying 
table, were all garlanded with light; every trace of the 
long physical struggle had been removed ; the great 
bed, with its meek, sleeping form and its white draperies, 
rose solitary amid its lights an altar of death in the void 
of the great panelled room. 

Laura stood opposite to Helbeck, her hands clasped, 
as white and motionless from head to foot as Augustina 
herself. Once amid the prayers and litanies he was 
reciting with the sisters, he lifted his head and found that 
she was looking at him and not at Augustina. Her 
expression was so forlorn, and difficult to read, that he felt 
a vague uneasiness. But his Catholic sense of the deep 
awe of what he was doing made him try to concentrate 
himself upon it, and when he raised his eyes again Laura 
was gone. 

At four o'clock, in the dawn, he went himself to rest 
a while, a little surprised, perhaps, that Laura had not 
come back to share the vigils of the night, but thankful, 


nevertheless, that she had been prudent enough to spare 

Some little time before he went, while it was yet dark, 
Sister Eosa had gone to lie down for a while. Her room 
was just beyond Laura's. As she passed Miss Fountain's 
door she saw that there was a light within, and for some 
time after the tired nurse had thrown herself on her bed, 
she was disturbed by sounds from the next room. Miss 
Fountain seemed to be walking up and down. Once or 
twice she broke out into sobs, then again there were 
periods of quiet, and once a sharp sound that might have 
been made by tearing a letter. But Sister Eosa did not 
listen long. It was natural that Miss Fountain should 
sorrow and watch, and the nurse's fatigue soon brought 
her sleep. 

She had rejoined hsr companion, however, and Mr. 
Helbeck had been in his room about half an hour, when 
the door of the death chamber opened softly, and Miss 
Fountain appeared. 

The morning light was already full, though still rosily 
clear and cold, and it fell upon the strangest and haggardest 
figure. Miss Fountain was in a black dress, covered 
with a long black cloak. Her dress and cloak were 
bedraggled with mud and wet. Her hat and hair were 
both in a drenched confusion, and the wind had laid a 
passing flush, like a mask, upon the pallor of her face. 
In her arms she held some boughs of wild cherry, and a 
mass of white clematis, gathered from a tree upon the 
house-wall, for which Augustina had cherished a par- 
ticular affection. 

She paused just inside the door, and looked at the 
nurses uncertainly, like one who hardly knew what she 
was doing. 

Sister Eosa went to her. 

1 They are so wet,' she whispered with a troubled look, 


' and I went to the most sheltered places. But I should 
like to put them by her. She loved the cherry blossom 
and this clematis.' 

The nurse took her into the next room, and between 
them they dried and shook the beautiful tufted branches. 
As Laura was about to take them back to the bed, Sister 
Eosa asked if she would not take off her wet cloak. 

'Oh no ! ' said the girl, as though with a sudden 
entreaty. ' No ! I am going out again. It shan't touch 

And daintily holding it to one side, she returned with 
the flowers in a basket. She took them out one by one, 
and laid them beside Augustina, till the bed was a vision 
of spring, starred and wreathed from end to end, save for 
that waxen face and hands in the centre. 

' There is no room for more,' said the nurse gently, 
beside her. 

Laura started. 

' No but ' 

She looked vaguely round the walls, saw a pair of old 
Delft vases still empty, and said eagerly, pointing, ' I will 
bring some for those. There is a tree a cherry tree,' the 
nurse remembered afterwards that she had spoken with a 
remarkable slowness and clearness, ' just above the otter 
cliff. You don't know where that is. But Mr. Helbeck 

The nurse glanced at her, and wondered. Miss Foun- 
tain, no doubt, had been dazed a little by the sudden 
shock. She had learnt, however, not to interfere with the 
first caprices of grief, and she did not try to dissuade the 
girl from going. 

When the flowers were all laid, Laura went round to 
the further side of the bed and dropped on her knees. 
She gazed steadily at Augustina for a little; then she 
turned to the faldstool beside the bed and the shelf above 


it, with Augustina's prayer-books, and on either side of 
the St. Joseph, on the wall, the portraits of Helbeck and 
his mother. The two nurses moved away to the window, 
that she might be left a little to herself. They had seen 
enough, naturally, to make them divine a new situation, 
and feel towards her with a new interest and com- 

When she rejoined them, they were alternately telling 
their beads and looking at the glory of the sunrise as it 
came marching from the distant fells over the park. The 
rain had ceased, but the trees and grass were steeped, and 
the river came down in a white flood under the pure green- 
ish spaces, and long pearly clouds of the morning sky. 

Laura gave it all one look. Then she drew her cloak 
round her again. 

' Dear Miss Fountain/ whispered Sister Rosa, en- 
treating, ' don't be long. And when you come in, let me 
get you dry things, and make you some tea.' 

The girl made a sign of assent. 

' Good bye,' she said under her breath, and she gently 
kissed first Sister Rosa, and then the other nurse, Sister 
Mary Raphael, who did not know her so well, and was a 
little surprised perhaps to feel the touch of the cold small 

They watched her close the door, and some dim 
anxiety made them wait at the window till they saw her 
emerge from the garden wall into the park. She was 
walking slowly with bent head. She seemed to stand 
for a minute or two at the first seat commanding the bend 
of the river ; then the rough road along the Greet turned 
and descended. They saw her no more. 

A little before eight o'clock, Helbeck, coming out of 
his room, met Sister Rosa in the passage. She looked a 
little disturbed. 


' Is Miss Fountain there ? ' asked Helbeck in the voice 
natural to those who keep house with death. He motioned 
towards his sister's room. 

' I have not seen Miss Fountain since she went out 
between four and five o'clock,' said the nurse. ' She went 
out for some flowers. As she did not come back to us, 
we thought that she was tired and had gone straight to 
bed. But now I have been to see. Miss Fountain is not 
in her room.' 

Helbeck stopped short. 

' Not in her room ! And she went out between four 
and five o'clock ! ' 

' She told us she was going for some flowers to the 
otter cliff,' said Sister Eosa, with cheeks that were rapidly 
blanching. ' I remember her saying so very plainly. She 
said you would know where it was.' 

He stared at her, his face turning to horror. Then he 
was gone. 

Laura was not far to seek. The tyrant river that she 
loved, had received her, had taken her life, and then had 
borne her on its swirl of waters straight for that little 
creek where, once before, it had tossed a human prey upon 
the beach. 

There, beating against the gravelly bank, in a soft 
helplessness, her bright hair tangled among the drift of 
branch and leaf brought down by the storm, Helbeck 
found her. 

He brought her home upon his breast. Those who 
had come to search with him followed at a distance. 

He carried her through the garden, and at the chapel 
entrance nurses and doctor met him. Long and fruitless 
efforts were made before all was yielded to despair ; but 
the river had done its work. 


At last Helbeck said a hoarse word to Sister Bosa. 
She led the others away. 

... In that long agony, Helbeck's soul parted for 
ever with the first fresh power to suffer. Neither life 
nor death could ever stab in such wise again. The half 
of personality the chief forces of that Helbeck whom 
Laura had loved, were already dead with Laura, when, 
after many hours, his arms gave her back to the Sisters, 
and she dropped gently from his hold upon her bed of 
death, in a last irrevocable submission. 

Far on in the day, Sister Eosa discovered on Laura's 
table a sealed letter addressed to Dr. Friedland of 
Cambridge. She brought it to Helbeck. He looked at it 
blindly, then gradually remembered the name and the 
facts connected with it. He wrote and sent a message 
to Dr. and Mrs. Friedland asking them of their kindness 
to come to Bannisdale. 

The Friedlands arrived late at night. They saw the 
child to whom they had given their hearts lying at peace 
in the old tapestried room. Some of the flowers she had 
herself brought for Augustina had been placed about her. 
The nurses had exhausted themselves in the futile cares 
that soothe good women at such a time. 

The talk throughout the household was of sudden and 
hopeless accident. Miss Fountain had gone for cherry- 
blossom to the otter cliff ; the cliff was unsafe after the 
rain ; only twenty-four hours before Mr. Helbeck had 
given orders on the subject to the old keeper. And the 
traces of a headlong fall just below a certain flowery 
bent where a wild cherry stood above a bank of primroses, 
were plainly visible. 

Then, as the doctor and Mrs. Friedland entered their 
own room, Laura's letter was brought to them. 


They shut themselves in to read it, expecting one of 
those letters, those unsuspicious letters of every day, 
which sudden death leaves behind it. 

But this was what they read : 

' Dear, dear friend, Last night, nearly five hours ago, 
I promised for the second time to marry Mr. Helbeck, 
and I promised, too, that I would be a Catholic. I asked 
him to procure for me Catholic teaching and instruction. 
I could not, you see, be his wife without it. His con- 
science, now, would not allow it. And besides, last 
summer I saw that it could not be. 

' . . . Then we were called to Augustina. It was she 
who finally persuaded me. I did not do it merely to 
please her. Oh ! no no. I have been on the brink of it 
for days perhaps weeks. I have so hungered to be his 
again. . . But it gave it sweetness that Augustina 
wished it so much that I could tell her and make her 
happy before she died. 

' Then, she was dead ! all in a moment without a 
word before we came to her almost. She had prayed 
so and yet God would not leave her a moment in which 
to hear it. That struck me so. It was so strange, after 
all the pains all the clinging to Him and entreating. 
It might have been a sign, and there ! she never gave a 
thought to us. It seemed like an intrusion, a disturbance 
even to touch her. How horrible it is that death is so 
lonely I Then something was said that reminded me of 
my father. I had forgotten him for so long. But when 
they left me with her, I seemed to be holding not her 
hand, but his. I was back in the old life I heard 
him speaking quite distinctly. " Laura, you cannot do it 
you cannot do it I" And he looked at me in sorrow 
and displeasure. I argued with him so long, but he beat 
me down. And the voice I seemed to hear was not his 


only ; it was the voice of my own life, only far stronger 
and crueller than I had ever known it. 

' Cruel ! I hardly know what I am writing who has 
been cruel! I ! only I ! To open the old wounds to 
make him glad for an hour then to strike and leave 
him could anything be more pitiless ? Oh ! my best 
best beloved. . . But to live a lie upon his heart, in his 
arms that would be worse. I don't know what drives 
me exactly but the priests want my inmost will want 
all that is I and I know when I sit down to think 
quietly, that I cannot give it. I knew it last October. 
But to be with him, to see him was too much. Oh ! if 
God hears, may He forgive me I prayed to-night that 
He would give me courage. 

1 He must always think it an accident he will. 
I see it all so plainly. But I am afraid of saying or 
doing something to make the others suspect. My head 
is not clear. I can't remember from one moment to 

' You understand I must trouble him no more. And 
there is no other way. This winter has proved it. Because 
death puts an end. 

'This letter is for you three only, in all the world. 
Dear, dear Molly I sit here like a coward but I can't 
go without a sign. You wouldn't understand me I 
used to be so happy as a little child But since Papa died 
since I came here Oh! I am not angry now, not 
proud no, no. It is for love for love 

' Goodbye goodbye. You were all so good to me 
Think of me, grieve for me, sometimes. 

' Your ever grateful and devoted 

' LAURA.' 

Next morning early, Helbeck entered the dining-room 
where Dr. Friedland was sitting. He approached the 


doctor with an uncertain step, like one finding his way in 
the dark. 

' You had a letter,' he said. ' Is it possible that you 
could show it me or any part of it ? Only a few hours 
before her death the old relations between myself and 
Miss Fountain were renewed. We were to have been 
husband and wife. That gives me a certain claim.' 

Dr. Friedland grew pale. 

' My dear sir,' he said, rising to meet his host, ' that 
letter contained a message for my daughter which was 
not intended for other eyes than hers. I have destroyed it.' 

And then speech failed him. The old man stood in a 
guilty confusion. 

Helbeck lifted his deep eyes with the steady and yet 
muffled gaze of one who, in the silence of the heart, lets 
hope go. Not another word was said. The doctor found 
himself alone. 

Three days later, the doctor wrote to his wife, who 
had gone back to Cambridge to be with Molly. 

' Yesterday Mrs. Fountain was buried in the Catholic 
grave-yard at Whinthorpe. To-day we carried Laura to a 
little chapel high in the hills. A lonely yet a cheerful 
spot ! After these days and nights of horror, there was 
a moment a breath of balm. The Westmoreland rocks 
and trees will be about her for ever. She lies in sight, 
almost, of the Bannisdale woods. Above her the mountain 
rises to the sky. One of those wonderful Westmoreland 
dogs was barking and gathering the sheep on the crag- 
side, while we stood there. And when it was all over I 
could hear the river in the valley a gay and open stream, 
with little bends and shallows not tragic like the Greet. 

' Many of the country people came. I saw her cousins, 
the Masons ; that young fellow you remember ? with 


a face swollen with tears. Mr. Helbeck stood in the 
distance. He did not come into the chapel. 

' How she loved this country ! And now it holds her 
tenderly. It gives her its loveliest and best. Poor, poor 
child ! 

' As for Mr. Helbeck, I have hardly seen him. He 
seems to live a life all within. We must be as shadows 
to him ; as men like trees walking. But I have had a 
few conversations with him on necessary business ; I 
have observed his bearing under this intolerable blow. 
And always I have felt myself in the presence of a good 
and noble man. In a few months, or even weeks, they 
say he will have entered the Jesuit Novitiate. It gives 
me a deep relief to think of it. 

' What a fate ! that brought them across each other, 
that has left him nothing but these memories, and led her, 
step by step, to this last bitter resource this awful 
spending of her young life this blind witness to august 
things 1 ' 





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Ward, Mary Augusta (Arnold) 

Helbeck of Bannisdale 
7th ed.